Toronto residents who live near ravines and forests – typical coyote habitat – can expect an increase in coyote sightings during winter months.Coyotes have become a natural part of the urban landscape in Toronto and are an important part of the ecosystem, as they control rodent and rabbit populations. They thrive in urban areas because of the abundance of food and shelter available to them.Coyotes are seen more often in winter for these three reasons:
- It is easier to spot them in parks and ravines when they are not hidden by foliage.
- They are wary by nature and are more comfortable roaming in residential neighbourhoods when fewer people are outside.
- The months of January and February are mating season for coyotes. As coyotes are more active during this time, they become more visible.
Coyotes are active day and night, but prefer to hunt after dusk or before dawn. Coyotes are normally shy, but out of natural curiosity they may watch or follow humans. Feeding them makes the animals less fearful of humans.Residents should follow these steps to minimize negative encounters with coyotes:
- Avoid feeding coyotes. Feeding wild animals, including coyotes, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is detrimental and can create problems for the neighbourhood.
- Avoid feeding domestic pets outdoors.
- Ensure that all household garbage is inaccessible to animals.
- Place garbage at the curb on the morning of the scheduled pickup, rather than the night before.
- Always supervise pets – keep dogs on a leash and keep cats indoors or supervised when outside.
- Remove dense brush and weeds around property to minimize hiding spots for coyotes.
- If you encounter a coyote, wave your arms aggressively, make loud noises and throw objects in its direction to scare it away. These actions teach coyotes to be afraid of humans and will help to minimize conflicts. If those kinds of actions do not scare aware a coyote, slowly back away – avoid turning your back or running away. Like dogs, coyotes may give chase if you run.
For more information, or to report a coyote sighting, go to toronto.ca/coyote (http://www.toronto.ca/coyote) or call 311.