The City of Toronto wants people to stop feeding wildlife, especially coyotes, after reporting people were leaving food for the animals in Colonel Samuel Smith Park in Etobicoke.
In 2021, Toronto received more than 3,600 reports of coyote sightings in the city. Most interactions with coyotes were a direct result of having a regular food source of people leaving food for the animals.
“Feeding coyotes and wild animals increases their presence and causes them to lose their fear of people, creating problems for both wildlife and our neighborhoods,” the city’s statement read.
Although most coyotes do not pose a threat to humans, they can still pose a danger to pets.
“It is not uncommon for coyotes to injure or kill cats and small dogs,” the city said. The Star has previously reported on the dangers of feeding coyotes and an increase in coyote sightings in the city after a 10-year-old girl and her Yorkshire terrier were chased by a coyote in the Warden Woods area last summer.
People who live near green spaces, ravines, and other areas where coyotes live should watch their pets closely. They should keep cats indoors and only allow off-leash dogs in designated off-leash areas, the city advises.
To minimize encounters with coyotes, Toronto is urging residents to avoid leaving any type of food outside, including pet food.
“Coyotes are a natural part of Toronto’s cityscape and an important part of the ecosystem as they keep rodent and rabbit populations in check,” the statement read.
It is normal to see coyotes at this time of year. Coyote mating season occurs during the months of January and February, which means the animals will be most active and visible near ravines and parks.
IF YOU ENCOUNTER A COYOTE
The city suggests people generally avoid approaching coyotes, their dens or their cubs, even if they appear tame, sick or injured.
But if you encounter one, the city says people can try the following to protect themselves and their pets.
Do not run. Avoid turning your back, maintain eye contact and back away slowly.
Make yourself appear as tall or imposing as possible. Try raising your arms in the air or unzipping your jacket.
Make loud sounds, try stomping, clapping, or use a horn or whistle if available. You can also try opening and closing plastic bags and shouting about the coyote to alert others nearby.
Be assertive. Swing a cane, turn on a flashlight or, if available, throw a ball or rock at the coyote to scare it away, the city says.
IF YOUR PET IS ATTACKED BY A COYOTE
Attacking or biting another animal is not grounds for eliminating the coyote. The city says if the coyote is injured or sick, Toronto Animal Services will investigate and determine if the coyote can recover on its own or if it should be captured and brought to a wildlife rehabilitation center. Once recovered, the coyote will be returned to the area from which it was captured.
People who feed or attempt to leave food for wildlife can face a $365 fine. The city wants residents who see someone feeding a coyote to call 311.
Coyote sightings can be reported to Toronto Animal Services by calling 416-338-PAWS (7297) or emailing email@example.com.