Urban Coyotes Myths vs Facts
By Cory Cameron
Coyote sightings are becoming more common in urban settings. We are seeing more because we continue to encroach on their territory. There continues to be a rampant misunderstanding regarding their behaviour. The key to co-existing with them is understanding the species and learning to share the space with them.
MYTH: Coyotes mate in the spring and become more aggressive.
FACT: Coyotes mate in January, February and March and are rearing pups in the Spring. They DO NOT become more aggressive when they are mating. If you do come across an aggressive coyote, chances are you are too close to a den, have cornered it, or it is sick. If a coyote is vocalizing to you, it’s time to back off. Please always report a sick coyote to Toronto 311.
MYTH: It’s ok to leave scraps out for the coyotes, that way they will leave my pets alone.
FACT: It is NEVER ok to feed coyotes, especially if you don’t want them to become regular visitors.
MYTH: A coyote will attack my pets.
FACT: In rare cases of extreme hunger, a coyote will take a small dog or cat for food. If you live in an area frequented by coyotes, never leave your pet outside unattended. A coyote is afraid of you and will quickly retreat if you are with your pet.
MYTH: If a coyote is staring at me, it is about to attack me.
FACT: Coyotes stare to help them determine whether or not you are a threat to them. If a coyote begins to vocalize, it’s best to move along as you are likely too close to a den. Sometimes, a coyote will even follow you until they feel you are a safe distance away from the area they are trying to protect.
MYTH: My birdfeeder will not attract coyotes.
FACT: The feeder itself is not the issue, but rather all the critters who like to clean up the mess the birds made. Rats, mice, and rabbits are a coyote’s favourite meal.
MYTH: When a coyote howls it means it is hunting.
FACT: Coyotes vocalize for many reasons and hunting is not one of them. As a matter of fact, coyotes are silent when they hunt so they don’t alert their prey. When they are vocalizing, they could be defending their territory, teaching their young, or simply calling the pack together (like a dinner bell).
MYTH: A coyote will lure my dog away to an ambush point.
FACT: Off-leash dogs will chase and follow coyotes by nature. A coyote being followed will simply head back to its den to protect itself. That is not a lure, that is self protection.
Coyotes for the most part are just trying to subsist in a space being taken away from them. Of course, you should always exercise caution when near wild creatures.
Below are some great references:
Coyote Watch Canada.com
Coyote Watching in Toronto Facebook Page