Not to fear, but coyotes are here

The animal's becoming more common in the city but does not pose serious threat, expert says

Coyotes may be more prevalent in urban areas, such as Scarborough, but that does not mean they are more harmful. 

Coyotes have lived near urban environments a long time but have just recently begun to venture into the concrete jungle. However, it may not be something to be worried about.

For Scarborough residents, this is especially important.

Sharing a living space with wild animals is nothing new to people living in cities. After all, animals such as pigeons, raccoons and squirrels are a common sight.

It has been over 10 years since a coyote even nipped someone.

Nathalie Karvonen

Coyotes, on the other hand, may not be seen as frequently. But that does not mean they are not there.

Nathalie Karvonen, executive director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre, says that even though they may be less noticeable, it is important we remember coyotes are not pets.

“It is important to not intentionally feed coyotes,” Karvonen said. “Which some people do, as they do with other wild animals.”

It is also important to keep your house and yard coyote-proof.

One of the main reasons coyotes venture into urban areas is for food.

But coyotes are not picking through garbage, as a raccoon may do, Karvonen said. Instead, they are searching for mice and rats.

Scattered bird feed, compost piles and pet food left outside all attract mice and rats. Which, in turn, attract coyotes.

If you can make sure your house and yard are free of potential homes for mice and rats, then you can also help stop coyotes venturing into your area.

More importantly, however, is to understand these animals do not present a threat — so long as you treat them like you would any other wild animal.

“A lot of people enjoy looking at them and a lot of people, most people actually, have absolutely no problem with them being around their neighbourhood,” Karvonen said.

Although they may be interesting to watch and observe, it is best to do this from a distance.

Should a coyote come to close to you, the best maneuver is to make loud noises and spread and wave your arms.

If you act scary, the coyote will get scared and should scatter away.

A coyote attack is a very rare occurrence. Although you can never be 100 per cent certain, an incident where a coyote actually injures someone is very unlikely, Karvonen said.

“It has been over 10 years since a coyote even nipped someone. In the last two years there have been over 1,000 dog bites in Toronto, including Scarborough, so we just have to put things into perspective.”

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Toronto Wildlife Centre

About this article

By: Taylor O. Giffin
Copy editor: Alexandra Gater
Posted: Apr 4 2013 11:30 am
Filed under: Features News