Coyotes are becoming a more common occurrence in urban parts of Muskoka, as evidenced by several sightings in recent weeks in the downtown Bracebridge area.
Earlier this month multiple sightings were reported in the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Area and a coyote was roaming Aubrey Street across the road from where a group of students were waiting for the bus at around 8:30 am last Thursday.
This summer, coyotes have also been reported near the Riverview Apartments on Southbank Drive, along Pine Street, as well as in several areas around Huntsville where one reportedly attacked a dog. There were so many residents concerned about coyotes in Lake of Bays Township that last month the municipality issued a statement reminding residents that the Algonquin-area wolf, also known as the Eastern Wolf, also inhabits regions including Finlayson, Franklin, and Sinclair wards along with coyotes. The wolf species is protected under the Endangered Species Act. As it is difficult to distinguish between the Eastern Wolf from other species, Ontario has prohibited hunting and trapping of both wolves and coyotes in the core Eastern Wolf occurrence areas.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Natural Resources said coyotes have been inhabitants of the central-north region of Ontario, including urban areas, for many decades.
“Coyotes have adapted well to urban environments; it is not uncommon to see coyotes in municipal areas,” said Sarah Figueiredo, MNRF Spokesperson.
Coyotes are usually wary of humans and avoid people whenever possible, she said.
“Bold behaviour (not being fearful of humans) has been previously documented in a small proportion of coyotes within populations across North America,” she said.
She said in almost all cases, such behaviour is the result of food conditioning, the process through which coyotes lose their fear of people after repeated access to human food sources.
“People should never feed coyotes,” she said. “Feeding makes animals less fearful of humans and habituates them to foods provided by humans.”
Figueiredo said homeowners can take steps to ensure wildlife, including coyotes, are not attracted to their property and neighbourhood by properly managing garbage and by accompanying pets outside.
The MNRF offers the following tips:
If you see a coyote, keep your distance and the animal will most likely avoid you. If you encounter an aggressive coyote, there are several things you should know and do:
- Never approach or touch it.
- Do not turn your back on, or run from, a coyote.
- Back away from the coyote while remaining calm.
- Stand tall, wave your hands and make lots of noise.
- Carry a flashlight at night to scare off coyotes.
- Keep your pet leashed. Do not let pets chase coyotes as it could result in injuries to your pet.
If a coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, call 911 immediately.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in collaboration with partner ministries, works with municipalities to prevent and manage conflicts between wildlife and people by providing advice and expertise on actions they can take to resolve such situations. The ministry also works with local police services, at their request, responding during daylight hours to emergency situations that may pose an immediate threat to public safety and continues to work with communities and partners to develop local solutions that address local needs.
You do not need to report sightings of coyotes unless they present an immediate threat to public safety. If a wild animal poses an immediate threat to public safety — call 911
If you live in Central and Northern Ontario, you must report wolves and coyotes killed in protection of property to your local ministry work centre.
For more information on preventing and managing conflicts with coyotes, please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/preventing-and-managing-conflicts-coyotes
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