Why coyotes are being spotted across the city

What you should know about these Toronto locals

They’re furry, beautiful and they’ll eat almost anything.

Social media has been rife with Toronto’s coyotes, such as this spotting at Mount Pleasant Cemetery from April 12. This is possibly because coyotes generally birth their pups in the spring, however it is not advised to approach the pups no matter how cute they are.

Along with raccoons, coyotes are an urban jungle staple but typically live near ravines and forests. Although they generally do not pose a danger to humans, they could be a danger to your pets.

“They eat almost anything, so they do hunt small animals. Squirrels, mice, rats, and they can also sometimes hunt cats,” said Mary Lou Leiher, the program manager for partnerships and marketing at Toronto Animal Services. “Although that isn’t as often as people think it is,” she added.

Leiher said that sometimes people will see a coyote with a cat in their mouth. She explained that it could mean the coyote killed the cat, but it could also mean that the coyote found the cat dead already as coyotes eat dead animals.

The most common misconception with coyotes is that they’re going to attack people, said Leiher. “While that’s not impossible, we really don’t get reports of coyotes biting people in Toronto,” she said.

Coyotes prefer to hunt after dusk or before dawn, but they are active both day and night, and they do not hibernate, according to a Feb. 4 City of Toronto press release. Coyotes will eat any food available to them, including small mammals, birds, and improperly stored garbage.

“They’ll come into parks, they’ll come onto your street. People get alarmed when they see a coyote walking down the sidewalk (but) that’s not really alarming, it’s pretty typical,” said Leiher.

Pet owners should avoid feeding their pets outdoors, and should always supervise their pets by keeping dogs on a leash and cats indoors or supervised when outside. Residents should ensure that all household garbage is inaccessible to animals and should place garbage out on the morning of the scheduled pick up, rather than the night before, the press release advised.

Leiher said that if one wishes to interact with coyotes, the best way to do so would be with binoculars and from a distance. A coyote’s natural behaviour is quite timid, and when humans want to get close to coyotes, for example to feed them they may think that is harmless but it’s actually quite harmful.

Coyotes don’t need humans to feed them, and when they are fed by humans they start to associate people with getting a meal. Leiher said feeding coyotes makes them more comfortable having less of a distance between humans.

This was possibly why there have been multiple coyote sightings in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery recently. “My understanding is there are people feeding the coyotes in there,” said Leiher.

Coyotes are a natural part of the urban landscape in Toronto, and they help the ecosystem as they control rodent and rabbit populations. Coyotes thrive in urban areas because of the abundance of food and shelter available to them.

If you see a coyote, or if one approaches you, make a loud noise and try to appear larger, said Leiher. If coyotes are common in your area, keep a large garbage bag on hand and snap the bag, a sound that coyotes dislike and will make them run away. 

If the coyote does not respond to those actions, Leiher advised to put less distance between yourself and the coyote and eventually it will run away.

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Why coyotes are being spotted across the city