Coyote sightings up during mating season

[attach]5407[/attach]Now that coyote mating season has begun, the City of Toronto is asking people to be more vigilant when they’re near parks and wooded areas.

Though Toronto Animal Services’s manager Elizabeth Glibbery says they had not received any calls regarding bites as of Jan. 18, there had been sightings.

“(The calls for sightings) were becoming almost daily, so we decided we would provide the community with more information about coyotes so that they were more aware of what was usual behaviour and what was unusual behaviour,” she said.

Glibbery said coyotes are naturally afraid of humans and more often than not, are actually stalking the animal on the end of the leash, not the person.

“Because their food source is always attached to humans, they’re becoming a little less afraid of humans. That’s why we need to be more assertive when we’re coming in contact with these animals, that way they know they should be afraid of us,” she said. “A lot of people are carrying horns or whistles or something that is shrill and not pleasant and it seems to be working for those people.”

Defining aggressive behaviour as anything physical directed at either a human or an animal, including lunging or chasing, Glibbery says there are ways to avoid it.

“One, don’t let your dogs off leash, especially if there are parks or large woods around because … coyotes will often lure the animals into the woods by playing with them and once they get them away from the owners they’re pretty much gone,” she said. “If they do spot a coyote and it is approaching them, they should make loud noise, yelling, waving their hands so the coyote becomes afraid of humans again.”

She added owners should never leave their pets unattended in their yards and under no circumstances should anyone feed a coyote.

Though one might think not feeding coyotes would go without saying, Glibbery said it isn’t always intentional. Often times, it’s a result of people feeding feral cats or not securing their garbage properly.

Regardless, she says it’s really a matter of learning to live with the animals, which are part of the urban landscape.

“People need to be more aware that we need to learn to live with these creatures, but also learn how to live with them, so that people don’t get so frightened when they see an animal that’s wild,” said Glibbery who noted coyotes are always there, but are usually only seen during mating season.

“They do mate in January and February so that’s why we’re seeing more sightings this time of year,” she added. “Generally, people are of the opinion that these animals are threatening and that they shouldn’t be there.

“In fact they are there and they always have been there.”