The City of Toronto advises residents who live near typical coyote habitat including ravines, forests and large parks, to expect to see more coyotes during winter. At this time of year, it is easier to spot coyotes in parks and ravines, as they are not hidden by foliage. Coyote mating season also falls during January and February, leading to coyotes being more active and visible.
Coyotes generally do not pose a danger to people but can pose a danger for pets; it is not uncommon for coyotes to injure or kill cats and small dogs. The City is aware of two incidents this month where dogs have been taken from backyards near ravines and killed by coyotes.
Residents living near green spaces, ravines and other areas where there are coyotes, should only take pets out into their backyard with them and supervise their pets at all times. Cats should be kept indoors or supervised while outside. When walking, keep dogs on leash and close by at all times, especially in areas of Toronto where there are known to be coyotes. Allow dogs off-leash only in designated dog-off-leash areas, stay close and ensure dogs respond well to voice commands.
Most interactions with coyotes in Toronto are the result of a nearby, regular food source, especially intentional feeding by people. Feeding wild animals, including coyotes, is detrimental and can create problems for the neighbourhood. To minimize negative encounters with coyotes, residents should remember the following:
Coyotes are a natural part of the urban landscape in Toronto and an important part of the ecosystem, as they control rodent and rabbit populations. Coyotes thrive in urban areas because of the abundance of food and shelter available to them.
The City has a coyote response strategy that includes public education, bylaws that prohibit the feeding of wildlife, and criteria for the removal of coyotes, if necessary.
To educate residents about urban coyote behaviour, the City partnered with Coyote Watch Canada, to develop an e-learning module: Coyotes in the Urban Landscape. The module also includes tips to reduce negative encounters with coyotes and keep pets safe, so that residents, pets and wildlife can exist in harmony in Toronto.
An attack or bite on another animal is not grounds for removal. Where a coyote is injured or sick, Toronto Animal Services will investigate to determine whether the coyote can recover on its own or needs to be captured and brought to a wildlife rehabilitation facility. In accordance with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, the coyote will be placed back into the area from which it was captured when it has recovered.
More information on the City’s coyote response, as well as the Coyotes in the Urban Landscape e-learning module are available at toronto.ca/coyote.
Residents who see someone feeding a coyote should contact 311, as it is against City by-laws. Coyote sightings can be reported to Toronto Animal Services by calling 416-338-PAWS (7297) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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