By Laurie Snell
It turns out, there’s a reason there have been so many coyote sightings in recent weeks.
Brent Patterson, wildlife research scientist at the Ministry of Natural Resources said that coyotes have litters of pups around April or May. As they grow to become more active and independent, they relocate from their parents to find their own territory.
“Early August is when (coyote) pups are more mobile and they can abandon the sites to move to new areas,” Patterson said.
“The pups are not really a risk. They don’t pose a risk or threat. If anything, they are just a little less fearful of humans than older coyotes.”
The nature of the animal is nothing to fear, Patterson explained. If ever there is an aggressive coyote, it is incredibly rare, he said.
“Typical behaviour for coyotes is to be shy and secretive. There are coyotes living in almost every neighbourhood … they are very common. The vast majority are living around us, but are secretive. It’s a small percentage of the population making them known to us. We can go a long way to ensure they are habituated with us by removing food from our properties,” Patterson said.
“If people are feeding them, that’s a bad idea,” he said, adding that they become dependent and associate humans with food. The Ministry of Natural Resources advises that all garbage, compost and food attractants be secured. This includes keeping pet food indoors and picking up fallen fruit from trees.
For homes with vegetable gardens, the ministry recommends fencing them in, and/or building a fence around the property at least six feet high, and six inches under the ground.
Patterson also recommends making your property uninviting to wildlife by installing motion-sensitive lights.
“If there’s a coyote around your yard, it’s for a reason – food. Keep food away. It makes its living by consuming the most food possible … so don’t keep pet food or even apples that have fallen off apple trees around your yard.
“Coyotes are very interested in fruit and small pets can even be viewed as prey,” Patterson said, adding that most of their activity occurs at night because they are nocturnal.
If you do encounter a coyote, stand tall and don’t turn your back on the animal. Patterson recommended backing away from it slowly.
As in any emergency, “If there’s ever an immediate risk to human safety, the immediate call is 9-1-1,” Patterson said.
By Laurie Snell