A Muskoka wildlife sanctuary is getting involved in the effort to deal with urban coyotes.
In recent weeks, there has been a large-scale effort to resolve the situation with coyotes in Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough and the surrounding neighbourhood.
Toronto Animal Services, Coyote Watch Canada and Toronto Wildlife Centre(TWC) have been working to educate residents, identify and limit food sources for coyotes, and have initiated an aversive conditioning program.
The focus of much of the attention has been on the collared coyote, known as “Urban 23” by Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDMNRF). According to the TWC, despite these initiatives, the widespread media coverage, and educational signs posted throughout the neighbourhood, feeding of the animals has continued – especially in the cemetery.
Some residents are very concerned about the presence of food and/or human conditioned coyotes. Although coyote experts agree that the behaviour of the collared animal was not aggressive, his comfort level around people continued – reinforced by the food rewards he continued to receive – to the point where his behaviour was no longer considered acceptable by City officials.
According to the TWC, a coyote or other wild animal whose behaviour has been significantly changed by feeding could potentially hurt someone, even if the animal is playing or merely seeking a food treat.
A carefully planned and highly coordinated capture effort by a wildlife veterinarian, MNDMNRF staff tracking the collared coyote with telemetry equipment, and TWC’s Rescue Team, who have extensive experience catching coyotes, was carried out successfully on August 9th. The coyote was tracked and located inside a construction yard. He was tucked away under some waste rubble, where he had taken shelter to get out of the heat. Once approached, he came out of his resting spot. He then paused to assess who was there. During this pause, a dart with a sedative was deployed and within minutes he was immobilized. Urban 23 had a quick exam and check of his vital signs, then was administered a reversal agent and taken back to TWC to recover.
Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (AVWS) has agreed to accept Urban 23 as a permanent resident.
“While we are pleased to welcome Urban 23 as a permanent wildlife resident, it saddens us to know that this outcome was entirely avoidable,” said Linda Glimps, Executive Director, Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. “Urban 23 will become part of our guided tours, which serve to educate the public on the negative impact of human interference, including feeding wildlife.”
Of greatest concern to all involved is that the feeding continues, and there are other coyotes in the neighbourhood being affected by it.
”Some might consider this a happy ending, but we think the whole situation is just so sad,” said Nathalie Karvonen, Executive Director of Toronto Wildlife Centre. “This coyote’s whole life has been changed, his whole future as a wild animal taken away, by the thoughtless and selfish actions of the people who refused to stop feeding him.”
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