As spring progresses, people are reporting an increase in coyote sightings across Canada’s residential neighbourhoods. According to Dan Kraus, a senior biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), this is because people are spending more time at home and in local parks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During busier times when we are constantly on the move, many of us tend to be hurrying to get somewhere and fail to notice that wildlife is all around us,” Kraus said in a news release.
A survey released by the NCC in January revealed that 94 per cent of Canadians have found that spending time outdoors relieves stress during the pandemic. More time outdoors is bound to result in more wildlife sightings.
“Wildlife is making a comeback in many of our cities. Coyotes are an incredible species that, despite past efforts to eradicate them, have actually expanded their range and even adapted to live in the downtown cores of our cities,” Kraus said. “But we need to remember that real nature is not a Disney film. These are wild animals and need to be treated with respect so we can peacefully co-exist.”
Coyote sightings in the spring are not uncommon. According to Kraus, this is when they’re searching for food and dens to rear their pups. While coyotes typically avoid confrontations with humans, if fed, they can become habituated to people and potentially turn aggressive.
To avoid aggressive interactions with coyotes in your neighbourhood, Kraus suggested that any garbage or pet food left outside should be in sealed containers, and that pets should be kept indoors at home, and on leashes during walks. He also recommended sealing off any spaces under porches, decks, or sheds that coyotes could turn into dens.
If you do encounter a coyote, Kraus said you should keep a safe distance and calmly back away in the direction you came from. Running may trigger a predatory response in the coyote, causing it to give chase.
If the coyote is exhibiting aggressive behaviour and continues to approach, make yourself as big as possible and use loud noises to scare it away. If the coyote continues to advance, throw rocks or sticks in its direction.
For coyotes showing signs of aggression or habituation in your neighbourhood, Kraus said you should call the police or your local Natural Resources Department.