Coyotes in the city—response

As I was looking for information about coyotes eating pets, I found a report for the city of Toronto that said there were few sightings each year and the sightings were actually decreasing. I wonder if one person in a hundred would bother to report seeing a coyote to the city or if they would know where to send their information. I sent the details of mysighting to the author of the report, who forwarded it; and I got this response back:

I am a supervisor with Toronto Animal Services and I’ve been asked to respond to your concerns about a coyote sighting in the Don Valley.

The City of Toronto has had a population of urban coyotes for at least 25 years. Because their normal behaviour is to avoid humans and they are most active during dawn and dusk, there are many residents in the City who have never seen a coyote and in fact don’t realize that they live here.

I’m very sure that what you saw in the Don Valley was a coyote – you seem to know that in silhouette, the differences between a dog and a coyote is the tail carriage. I also know that there are many coyotes in the ravine and this is normal urban coyote habitat.

As long as the coyote is hunting and carrying on in a normal way, there are no concerns at all with the coyote being there. Coyotes become problematic when they become habituated or socialized to humans. This sometimes happens when there is a good food supply from improperly managed garbage or when someone is deliberately feeding them. When coyotes are deliberately fed by people, they quickly lose their natural fear and their normal behaviour is modified. When they have access to garbage, these intelligent animals associate the garbage meal with humans. At that point, they will sometimes interact with people in ways that are uncomfortable for us. For example, they are very curious about our domestic pet dogs. If they are not very scared of the dog owner, they might follow an owner with a leashed dog at a fairly close distance. Sometimes, they might show aggression toward a dog. On very, very rare occasions, they may even show aggression towards people. In Toronto, we have only had experience with one coyote who was actually biting people – we were eventually able to track down the person who was deliberately feeding it and captured the coyote as well. Again, this type of situation is very rare and is not generally a concern for Toronto residents.

We are very lucky in Toronto to enjoy so much green space in parks and rivers. Urban wildlife is part of the enjoyment. Coyotes are probably the least offensive in terms of nuisance wildlikfe calls that we receive in Animal Services (raccoons, skunks etc).

Please contact me if you wish to discuss further.

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