A combination of people feeding coyotes and the changing landscape is what’s driving up sightings of the animals in urban areas.
That’s according to Canada Research Chair in Integrative Wildlife Conservation at Trent University Dr. Dennis Murray.
“If you go back about 150 years, there in fact were no coyotes in Ontario, but since we’ve altered the landscape quite a bit, we’ve cleared things up a lot, coyotes tend to do a lot better in those environments,” explained Dr. Murray. “So they’ve been expanding their range for the last while and now we’re just seeing the outcome of that.”
He says Durham Region is the perfect place for coyotes.
“The like habitat that’s kind of broken up,” continued Dr. Murray. “So they like to have some forest, but also some open areas, so they tend to do well in those areas so it’s not surprising that they’ve colonized our ravines and parklands and places like that.
He believes a big reason for an increase in sightings, especially in the GTA, is people are feeding the animals.
“That’s a recipe for disaster,” remarked Dr. Murray. “What happens is these animals essentially lose their fear of humans when that happens and not surprisingly, that’s when they’ll run into someone and they’ll come close to that person.”
He says people can help keep that animals away by making sure there isn’t any garbage or opportunities for them to get food on the property. He also suggests keeping cats indoors and watching small dogs closely, as they can be prey for coyotes. He says if you see a coyote, it’s also helpful to yell and wave your hands at them, making it clear they aren’t welcome.
If you do see a coyote, you can report the sighting to your local animal services department.