The coyote is a species of canine that migrated to Ontario from the west more than 100 years ago. Since then, coyotes have adapted extremely well to living in rural and urban environments.
In the country, coyotes are commonly found in open, agricultural land that includes woodlots and areas covered with brush. In urban areas, coyotes prefer natural green space, such as parks, ravines and stream banks.*They are active year-round, during the day and night. While some might find them scary, they play a role in our natural environment, helping to control the populations of rabbits, rats and mice.**
Coyotes mainly feed on small animals such as mice, rats, groundhogs and rabbits, as well as birds, snakes, turtles, frogs, fish, fruit and plants. They are opportunistic feeders in urban areas and will also eat garbage, fallen fruit, birdfeeder seed, garden crops, compost and pet food.
Coyote sightings in urban areas are not uncommon. Humans and coyotes can comfortably co-exist as coyotes do not normally approach people. They are generally shy, cautious and non-confrontational. Humans should not fear for their safety as attacks are extremely rare.
A number of measures can be taken to keep coyotes wild and humans and pets safe:
Often when there is an increase in the number of coyote sightings in urban areas, it’s because there is an accessible food source. You can help to deter coyotes from visiting your property by installing motion sensitive lighting, securing garbage and composters, fencing in gardens and avoid leaving pet or human food outdoors.
Prevent attacks on pets by leashing dogs in parks and natural areas, keeping cats indoors, and fencing yards near ravines and parks.
If you are approached by a coyote, stay calm and wait until it moves on. Although it is very rare for coyotes to attack humans, if you ever feel threatened by a coyote, do not run. Back away slowly without turning your back to it. You can scare the coyote off by:
- Standing tall/making yourself big.
- Shouting (do not scream) and waving your arms while facing the coyote(s) until it runs away.
- Using noisemakers such as, air horns, pots and pans banged together, whistles, or keys.
- Using an automatic release umbrella as the sight and sound of it opening usually scares them away.
A combination of deterrents may be required if just shouting at the coyote is ineffective.
For people who live close to areas where coyotes are more common it is important to be mindful of these guidelines:
Teach children how to respect and safely admire wildlife from afar.
Clean up after your dog. Coyotes are attracted to animal waste.
Be cautious during dusk and dawn as coyotes are most active during these times.
While walking outside at night, it is always a good idea to carry a flashlight and/or noise maker with you.
Keep our wildlife wild! Do not approach to feed coyotes even though they may seem hungry.
If you witness an incident between a human/pet and a coyote please notify Richmond Hill’s Natural Environment section by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 905-771-8800. The Town will then work with the local Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) office to determine if further action needs to be taken. The role of the Ministry of Natural Resources is to help landowners and municipalities deal with human/wildlife conflicts by making referrals to appropriate agencies and providing information on how to manage problem animals and how to hire a wildlife control agent. Our local MNR office is located at 50 Bloomington Road and the phone number is 905-713-7400.
If you encounter a sick or injured coyote or stray pet, report it to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) at 905-898-7122.
If a coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, please contact the police immediately by calling 9-1-1.
Following the above suggestions will help keep you and your pets safer and affords us and these animals the ability to safely coexist with one another.
*Ministry of Natural Resources website