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Cities urge residents to report coyote sightings

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Coyote sightings are not unusual, but some Ontario communities are asking residents to report them as mating season gets underway.

The City of Brantford has been receiving reports of the animals during both daytime and evening hours in residential areas.

However they are not aware of any attacks.

“Coyotes do not intentionally pose a danger or safety risk to the public and usually avoid people whenever possible,” the city said in a media release. “However, coyotes are wild animals and should not be approached. Any availability of water, shelter and food sources such as garbage, pet food, and birdfeeders make residential areas attractive to coyotes.”

The city is asking residents to use its online reporting tool so they can monitor sightings and share that data with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Last year there were seven unprovoked coyote attacks on people in Burlington.

In response, the city launched a task force to address the issue.

“After we created a task force and we had the animal services team out there proactively dealing with the situation, we saw a drastic decline in the aggressive attacks against residents,” said Nick Anastasopoulos, the director of Burlington’s building and bylaw department.

Now that mating season has begun, coyotes are on the move and can seem more aggressive.

“They’re going to protect their pups,” explained Anastasopoulos. “If you’re walking larger dogs, they just [see] them as threats.”

The City of Toronto said it’s aware of 252 sightings in January, while Mississauga has heard of one coyote conflict this year.

All three cities are urging residents to report sightings and dens located near neighbourhoods.

According to Colleen St. Clair, a biological sciences professor at the University of Alberta and creator of the Edmonton Urban Coyote Project, mating season begins in mid-January and continues until mid-March.

“The animals move into towns and cities where they feel ‘generally’ safer, which has increased the instance of people feeding them,” she told The Canadian Press. “They become very aggressive when they’re fed by people.”

DETERRING COYOTES

The City of Brantford says there’s some simple things homeowners can do to prevent unwanted visits:

  • Do not feed coyotes as it makes them less fearful of humans and they can grow accustomed to human food which may lead to more aggressive behaviour to both people and pets
  • Remove potential shelter, water and food sources (garbage bins, pet food and birdfeeders) to a place the animals cannot access and try to put waste containers out closer to collection time
  • Coyotes are attracted to dog feces so keep your property clean
  • Keep cats indoors and don’t leave small dogs outside unsupervised
  • Install flashing lights and/or motion sensors
  • Pick ripe fruit and seeds from trees and remove them from the ground
  • Place heavy-duty fences around vegetable gardens
  • Considering putting up a fence on your property
  • Clear away bushes and dense weeds near your home (where coyotes could seek shelter)
  • Close off empty spaces under porches, desks and sheds (which coyotes could use as a den to raise their young)

COYOTE ENCOUNTER GUIDELINES

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has released guidelines for anyone who may spot or even encounter a coyote in their neighbourhood:

  • Never approach or touch a coyote
  • Pick up small children and pets
  • Do not turn your back on or run from a coyote
  • Back away from the coyote and remain calm
  • Stand tall, wave your hands and make lots of noise
  • Consider carrying a flashlight to scare the animals away

REPORTING SIGHTINGS

If you see a coyote, reports can be made on the City of Brantford’s website.

For any sick or injured animal, the city asks residents to call Hillside Kennels at 519-469-3247 or 1-888-469-3247.

Call 911 if a coyote poses an immediate threat.

-- With files from The Canadian Press

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