By Pam Collins
There has been an increase in sightings of coyotes in our neighbourhood lately, and some residents are voicing fear and alarm. It is common to see them walking on a road or sidewalk or lying on someone’s porch in the wee hours. They are more often seen in parks or around our ravine systems that are home to other wildlife and so are a great habitat for them.
I had a personal experience before Christmas when our postal carrier was chased by a coyote and couldn’t deliver my mail. He was terrified.
The presence of coyotes is a sign of a healthy, balanced ecosystem and not a cause for alarm. They will always be a part of our urban landscape, so residents should learn how to live with them.
Here’s some information from Coyote Watch Canada:
Urban coyotes are not generally a threat to people. When we see them approach or follow small dogs or children, their behaviour may be seen as aggressive, but they are protecting their territory and family that may be close by. While it is not impossible for a coyote to bite or stalk a child, it is extremely rare. They are timid in nature.
They are also intelligent and have a strong ability to adapt to their environment. Feeding by humans is the single most prevalent cause of conflict between people and coyotes in urban areas. Coyotes will adapt to being fed and develop a higher tolerance for being close to people, coming close to homes, patrolling neighbourhoods for food, and may come closer than we are comfortable with. Coyotes are creative foragers, living on grubs, insects, small rodents and other small animals, eggs, fruit and vegetables.
Coyotes mate for life and breed around February; their gestation period is about two months. They are devoted and protective co-parents to their young.
They are active day and night year round but more visible in fall and winter when not camouflaged by leaves.
Coyotes do not hunt in packs. They are not true pack animals. Pups are born in the spring and they go off in fall to find their own territory or they may stay with the parents forming a family group.
A yipping coyote does not mean they have killed or are devouring prey. Coyotes will yip, bark or howl to communicate with each other, locate family, defend territory or warn of danger.
Coyote or Dog? It is hard to tell at a distance but one difference is in the tail position. Dog tails are active and can be curved or held high; coyote tails are always pointed straight down and slightly away from the body when walking or running.
To avoid attracting coyotes:
- Don’t feed your pets outside
- Don’t compost meat
- Store garbage and green bin waste appropriately to detract rodents that are prey
- Clean ground under bird feeders
- Don’t leave dogs or cats on a leash outside without supervision
- Keep dogs on a leash in parks, except for leash-free zones
The most important lesson for us is to learn how to coexist with urban coyotes. I have been unsuccessful in getting my resident coyote to take the online tutorial on learning to live with humans, so we just have to learn to live with them.
If you would like to learn more, go to: coyotewatchcanada.com