By Jessica Lovell
The Guelph Humane Society says people living along the Speed River shouldn’t be overly concerned about recent coyote sightings near the Silvercreek Trail.
“We are living shoulder to shoulder with wildlife within our community,” said Humane Society operations manager Deb Gray. “They will be seen.”
Coyote sightings are actually quite commonplace and are “not something to panic about,” she said, adding that it’s still important to remember that they are wild animals and to treat them accordingly.The recent sighting along Silvercreek Trail is one of three sightings that has been reported to the local Humane Society since the beginning of July, Gray said. The other two sightings were in the south end, near Southgate Drive.
Kim Kinat, a downtown resident who spotted the animal during a walk on the riverside trail, called to report it Wednesday out of concern for the people who live in the area and the numerous people who use the trail everyday.
“It’s pretty close to home when you’re on that trail,” said Kinat, noting that mothers pushing strollers are a common sight on the trail. “It was packed with people today.”
He spied the coyote along the river near the Village on the Green condo complex at the west end of Water Street. It was around 9 or 10 a.m., while he was out on his regular walk. It is the third time in recent weeks that he’s seen coyotes on the trail, he said. “Twice I’ve seen them on the river chasing ducks.”
Its behaviour wasn’t necessarily unusual, but Kinat wanted to make sure people were aware there were coyotes in the area, he said.
“I love animals, I just know they can become aggressive,” he said, noting coyotes are “pretty big.”
The Humane Society keeps track of the sightings, but doesn’t usually interfere unless an animal is behaving unusually or is showing signs of illness, said Gray.
“Just like any other critter, if it’s hale and hearty, we will not interfere,” she said.
Her advice for others who encounter coyotes is to do the same.
“They really don’t want a whole lot of contact with us, so for the most part, if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you,” Gray said.
However, the animals have been known to attack pets, including cats and small dogs, she said.
A local resident in the John F. Ross CVI area knows this now all too well.
In an email to the Tribune, Christine Laubach said her cat was killed by a coyote attack. At least that’s what she was told when the Humane Society came to pick up the animal after the attack, she said.
“I knew that at the edges of the city this was sometimes a problem, but I had no idea they would come into areas that were more built up,” she said.
For the most part, the animals tend to be shy of humans, coming out during times of the day when they know people are less likely to be around, Gray said. But at this time of year, as the growing pups are beginning to explore outside of their dens, “the likelihood of seeing them is probably a little higher than usual,” she said.
People should never feed the animals, and should never approach or attempt to touch them, said Gray.
If you do encounter a coyote that seems threatening or aggressive, do not turn your back, and don’t run, she said. Instead, stand tall, wave your arms and make noise to scare it, and back away from the animal. Call the Humane Society to report the encounter, or if it’s an immediate threat, call 9-1-1, she said.
For more information about living with urban wildlife, visit guelph.ca/wildlife.