coyote scarborough

Toronto coyote ripped away from its family after humans fail to follow simple rules

Whoever's been blatantly breaking the rules to feed coyotes at Pine Hills Cemetery in Toronto should feel really bad right now, as their actions have forced officials to remove a prominent member of the pack from its mate and its pups. Forever.

The animal in question, a collared coyote dubbed "Urban 23" by Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, has been raising concern among residents of some Scarborough neighbourhoods in recent months.

"Although coyote experts agree that the behaviour of the collared animal was not aggressive, his comfort level around people continued — reinforced by the food rewards he continued to receive — to the point where his behaviour was no longer considered acceptable by city officials," reads a release issued by Toronto Wildlife Centre (TWC) on Monday.

"A coyote or other wild animal whose behaviour has been significantly changed by feeding could potentially hurt someone, even if the animal is playing or merely seeking a food treat."

Thus, officials made the decision to relocate Urban 23 as part of a "large-scale effort to resolve the situation with coyotes in Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough and the surrounding neighbourhood."

While residents have valid concerns about the presence of coyotes (which typically pose no threat to humans but will try to eat small dogs and cats), it was human behaviour that attracted the animals to their neighbourhood in the first place.

TWC says that someone continues to feed the coyotes in Pine Hills, despite a rash of recent eductational initiatives, aversive conditioning programs, widespread media coverage and signs posted throughout the neighbourhood.

"One person was even seen walking past a sign that warned of the dangers of feeding, with food in their hand for a coyote," wrote the non-profit in its release.

"Of greatest concern to all involved is that the feeding continues, and there are other coyotes in the neighbourhood being affected by it... Human behaviour needs to change, because wild animals fall victim as a result."

Urban 23 is safe, but his life is forever changed thanks to those who've been feeding him and his family scraps of people food: The coyote was carefully tracked, located and captured on Aug. 9.

"He was tucked away under some waste rubble, where he had taken shelter to get out of the heat. Once approached, he came out of his resting spot. He then paused to assess who was there," writes TWC of the capture.

"During this pause, a dart with a sedative was deployed and within minutes he was immobilized. Urban 23 had a quick exam and check of his vital signs, then was administered a reversal agent and taken back to TWC to recover."

Fortunately, Muskoka's Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (AVWS) has agreed to accept Urban 23 as a permanent resident. He will become part of the rescue's guided tours, which they say "serve to educate the public on the negative impact of human interference, including feeding wildlife."

His story now serves as yet another reminder for people that the best thing they can do for most wild animals is appreciate them from a distance (read: leave them the heck alone).

"Some might consider this a happy ending, but we think the whole situation is just so sad,” said TWC's executive director Nathalie Karvonen of the case.

"This coyote's whole life has been changed, his whole future as a wild animal taken away, by the thoughtless and selfish actions of the people who refused to stop feeding him."

An image shared by the rescue, seen at the top of this article, drives the message home in TWC's release, with the caption: "Urban 23 playing with his family — June 2021."

He will never see members of his pack or any coyote pack in the wild again.

Lead photo by

Toronto Wildlife Centre

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