Wildlife in the City

Wildlife play an important role in our community. They enrich our lives and contribute to a healthy and diverse environment. Richmond Hill has many unique and valuable natural features that have long been enjoyed by residents and visitors. Many of these areas are located on the Oak Ridges Moraine and include wetlands, kettle lakes, forests and the headwaters of three large river systems. Together these natural features are home to more than 150 wildlife species, including 11 provincially and federally recognized species at risk.

Observing and interacting with wildlife is a common in Richmond Hill. We strive to provide residents with information about urban wildlife so that they understand and know how to peacefully co-exist with them in our community.

Featured wildlife

Beavers

BeaverBeavers are most active in the spring and fall. When beavers build a dam in an urban area, waterways become blocked which can cause flooding of properties and roads. The Richmond Hill Beaver Management Policy outlines how we respond to the presence of beavers on municipal land so that property damage and health and safety risks are minimized. This Policy follows the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, recommendations of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and policies of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

Learn how to prevent conflicts with beavers on private property.

Canada geese

Canada geese and babies

Interactions with Canada geese commonly occur from March to May (breeding season). They can be protective of their mate, nest and young, so providing them with space is important. 

Residents should not feed geese as they become dependent on us for food, causing them to lose their ability to seek their own food or migrate south. Items like bread and crackers provide no nutritional value. 

Under the federal Migratory Bird Convention Act, it is illegal to harass, move, harm or kill any migratory bird or migratory bird eggs. It is also illegal to disturb the nest site of a migratory bird without a migratory bird permit. Therefore, if a goose or duck is nesting on your property, you will have to be patient and leave them alone until the eggs hatch and the birds vacate the nest. Richmond Hill has a Canada Goose Management Plan to address the number of geese in our public parks and spaces. 

Learn how to deter Canada Geese and other birds from your property.

Coyotes

CoyoteCoyotes feed mainly on small animals such as mice and rabbits. Coyotes are generally shy, cautious and non-confrontational unless they are sick or have been fed by humans. They are active year-round but are most often encountered at dawn or dusk especially from January to March. To avoid conflicts with coyotes, do not leave food on your property, keep dogs leashed, keep cats indoors, supervise children and pets outside (i.e. small dogs), and do not approach coyotes.

What should you do if you encounter a coyote?

  • Don’t run
  • Back away slowly
  • Stand tall, make loud noises, and wave your hands to scare it away
  • Use a flashlight if walking at night 

If a coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, please contact the police by calling 9-1-1.

If you encounter a sick or injured coyote, City of Vaughan Animal Services at 905-832-2281 or 1-855-227-7297.

Learn more information about coyotes.

Foxes

FoxFoxes mainly feed on insects, fruits and small mammals including mice, and squirrels. In early spring, foxes will find a den to raise their young – this may be an abandoned burrow from another animal or a excavated a den underneath a man-made structure such as a shed. Foxes are shy, intelligent animals that will not approach humans unless they are sick. They are primarily nocturnal, but most active at dusk and dawn.

Learn more information about foxes.

Raccoons

RaccoonRaccoons are very common in urban areas and have adapted well to living alongside humans. They eat plants and small animals, but will eat almost any food available to them. Raccoons prefer heavily wooded areas, but are often found in urban areas. Reproduction begins in late winter and they usually give birth from March to May. 

To avoid conflicts, ensure your home is in good repair and remove food such as bird seed, pet food and fallen fruit. You should also properly secure your garbage cans and green bins.

Learn more about living with raccoons.

Turtles

TurtleOntario is home to eight species of turtles that are all considered Species at Risk. Turtles have a long life span and delayed sexual maturity.  As a result, they are highly sensitive to human-induced threats such as habitat loss and road mortality. Turtles hibernate during the winter and become active in the spring. Nesting occurs in late spring and summer and females are often seen crossing roads during this time to find a suitable nesting site.  Always be sure of your own safety if you decide stop to help a turtle on the road.

The Midland painted turtle and the Snapping turtle can often be found in Richmond Hill. Midland painted turtles may be confused with the invasive Red-eared slider, a common pet species that has been released into the wild.

Living with urban wildlife

Residents are encouraged to admire wildlife from a safe distance and to not approach or touch them.

How to make your property undesirable to wildlife

 Here are some ways to deter wildlife from your property:
  • Do not leave food outside
  • Rinse out your recycling bottles and containers
  • Keep your yard free of tall vegetation and natural debris (e.g. brush piles)
  • When using a composter, make sure there are no large openings for animals to enter
  • Seal any cracks or holes in and around your home

In Ontario, most bird nests are protected under law and cannot be disturbed during the breeding season. Depending on the species of bird, different federal or provincial rules will apply.

Learn more about how you can avoid conflicts with wildlife.

How to stay safe around wildlife

 Here are some precautions you can take to keep your family and pets safe around wildlife:
  • Keep your dog on a leash
  • Check your backyard before letting pets or children outside
  • Supervise pets and children in your yard
  • Do not approach, feed or try to pet wildlife (especially if there are young animals)

The dangers of feeding wildlife

Please do not feed wildlife as they can lose their fear of people and become a nuisance or even a safety risk. In addition, human food is not nutritious enough for wildlife and may cause serious health problems.

Learn more about the dangers of feeding wildlife.

Injured, orphaned, sick and/or dead animals 

What to do if you find an injured animal

If you find an injured animal, please contact City of Vaughan Animal Services at 905-832-2281 or 1-855-227-7297

What to do if you find an orphaned animal

Many times an infant animal may appear abandoned but is simply waiting for its parent to return. The following are tips on determining if an animal is orphaned and in need of assistance:

If you require assistance, please contact City of Vaughan Animal Services at 905-832-2281 or 1-855-227-7297

What to do if you see a sick animal

 If you see an animal you believe to be sick:

What to do if you find a dead animal

  • City-owned property (including parks) - Contact City of Vaughan Animal Services at 905-832-2281 or 1-855-227-7297
  • Private property - Contact a local animal removal company or dispose of the animal in the garbage. Please note that dead animals can spread diseases and safety precautions should be taken if disposing the animal yourself. Learn more about what to do if you find a dead animals on your property

Useful Resources

Learn more about wildlife-related topics in Richmond Hill and Ontario: