Co-existing with wildlife in nature- some advice and suggestions from Vaughan Animal Services

13 Oct

According to Vaughan Animal Services, coyotes are commonly found in urban areas throughout North America, including Vaughan. Seeing a coyote in Vaughan is not cause for alarm. Coyotes are not considered a significant risk to people. They are naturally wary of humans and avoid contact with people whenever possible; however, as with all wild animals, humans should avoid any direct contact. Most negative coyote interactions are preventable.

Best Practices to Deter Coyotes

Food

Intentional and unintentional feeding (food habituation) will lead coyotes to associate humans with sources of food, which can result in negative interactions between coyotes, people and pets.

  • Never feed or leave food out for a coyote.
  • Remove potential food sources from yards, including birdseed, fallen fruit, and open compost. 
  • Avoid feeding pets outside. If necessary, promptly remove bowls and any leftover food.
  • Store garbage, compost, and pet food where coyotes and other wildlife cannot have access.
  • Keep garbage in containers with tightfitting lids. Place containers curbside only on the morning of collection, rather than the night before.
  • Do not leave food waste in City of Vaughan garbage receptacles in parks, as this may attract rodents which in turn may attract coyotes or other wildlife.

Water

Remove all standing water sources from properties, such as water bowls for pets and watering cans. Even backyard water features can serve as water sources to wildlife.

Shelter

Spring is denning and pupping season, when coyotes concentrate their activity around dens or burrows to shelter their young. To reduce attraction to private property: remove debris, dead brush and wood piles; cut long grass; secure any gaps in sheds, decks, crawl spaces or foundation walls; secure any outbuildings on the property.

Unattended Pets

To minimize risk to pets, never leave pets outside unattended and always keep dogs close on leash during walks. Free-roaming pets, especially cats, may attract coyotes into neighbourhoods. Preferred prey for coyotes consists of rodents (mice, moles/voles, rats, etc.), rabbits, birds, amphibians, and insects. They also feed on eggs, wild berries, fallen fruit, nuts, carrion, and any found food source (e.g. human garbage). While they may not distinguish cats from their preferred prey, coyotes do not consider dogs as prey. Off leash or unattended dogs can however be vulnerable if perceived as threats by coyotes, or with coyotes who are protective of their territory and pups (usually during breeding season).

Aversion Conditioning (Hazing)
Hazing is an activity or series of activities intended to reintroduce or reinforce coyotes’ natural wariness of humans, to discourage coyotes from entering areas where people are present (such as parks and yards), to discourage coyotes from directly approaching people and pets, and to increase awareness about coyote behaviour and involve the community in coyote management efforts.

Hazing involves generating loud noises, making humans appear larger by waving arms over head, pulling a grocery bag from your pocket and snapping it in the air, spraying water, shining bright lights, using motion sensors, or throwing objects near (but not at) the animal. It is important to continue hazing efforts until the animal leaves the area. We discourage residents from stopping to take photographs, as this only contributes to coyotes being less wary of humans.

The above strategies promote and support safety of residents, wildlife, and pets. The goal is to adjust the way that our communities coexist with nature while re-habituating coyotes to exhibit greater wariness of people, and to achieve community wildlife resiliency while ensuring public safety, as already achieved in municipalities across Canada.

Information from Vaughan Animal Services