coyotes toronto

Toronto residents see woman leaving out meat to attract coyotes

Seeing coyotes in Toronto is nothing new, but one neighbourhood is reporting a marked increase, likely related to someone leaving out meat for the animals.

Several residents reported seeing coyotes in the Jane Street and Dundas Street West area of the Junction recently.

"Probably for the last two months, I've encountered them daily around here and it's on my walks which is about an hour, an hour and a half walk that I do with the dog in the morning," area resident Alex Zacheja told CP24.

The environmental conservation organization Coyote Watch in Toronto reported that coyotes are in the Beresford Park area between Jane Street and Windemere Avenue, Dundas Street West and Bloor Street.

"People have been leaving out food to taunt the coyotes out into the school and residential area," Coyote Watch posted.

People told CP24 that a woman who may work at a butcher shop leaves meat and cheese out.

"Feed has been repeatedly spotted at the north east corner of James Culnan Catholic School on Windemere Ave.," Coyote Watch posted.

In a similar incident this summer, people were leaving food for coyotes in Pine Hills Cemetery, and one coyote had to be removed from its family and sent to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary permanently.

Toronto Wildlife Centre said that feeding coyotes changes their behaviour.

"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," the centre said in a press release.

Coyote sightings have long been a part of living in Toronto but there may be more encounters recently due to lockdowns. 

In an emailed statement, Toronto Animal Services (TAS) said it is aware of coyote sightings in the Jane and Dundas area. TAS Officers have assessed and will continue to monitor the area.

"While we are trying to identify a regular feeder, it's unlikely that this is the only contributor to the increased sightings," they wrote. "There may be more than one feeder or there may be many unintentional food sources such as garbage and food left out in parks."

The increase of sightings could also be a result of construction on the sanitary main replacement in the area of Etienne Brule and Home Smith Parks as coyotes may be displaced from their normal habitat.

TAS recently provided educational materials and outreach in the community. On Nov. 11, the Toronto Wildlife Centre hosted a virtual community meeting and invited TAS and Coyote Watch Canada to participate to educate residents about how to deter coyotes and keep everyone safe. Additional park signage has also been installed in the area.

"Coyote sightings are normal, especially this time of the year as there is less foliage on the trees which makes it easier to spot coyotes in parks and ravines," they said. 

"Most interactions with coyotes in Toronto are the result of a nearby, regular food source, especially intentional feeding by people. Feeding wild animals, including coyotes, is detrimental and can create problems for the neighbourhood."

To minimize negative encounters with coyotes, residents should remember the following:

  • Never feed coyotes and don't leave food, including pet food, outside.
  • Properly dispose of garbage and waste at home and at parks.
  • When encountering a coyote, do not run but make noise to scare the coyote away.
  • Do not approach coyotes, their dens or their young.
  • Do not touch coyotes, even if they appear tame, sick or injured.

Despite the warnings this summer, people don't seem to be changing and coyotes will suffer.

"Human behaviour needs to change, because wild animals fall victim as a result," Toronto Wildlife Centre said.

This story was updated on Nov. 12 with additional information from the City of Toronto.

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