In recent weeks, the Montreal SPCA has received numerous calls regarding coyotes that were spotted on the island of Montreal, mainly in the Southwest area.
Coyotes have been expanding their range over the past 100 hundred years. Urban development and farmland have created new habitats, while railway lines, hydro-wire corridors and highways provide easy pathways for coyotes to travel. As more forest land is cleared for development, it creates more habitat space for coyotes who don’t live in dense forests.
In an effort to coexist with wildlife, consider the enormous hardships the coyotes encounter because so much of their environment has been destroyed. Each year they are forced into closer contact with humans and must compete with us for food, shelter and space.
With a yellow gray coat and a black dorsal stripe, coyotes look like a small dog with a tapered muzzle and pointed ears, weighing between 9 and 23 pounds. In winter, they feed mainly on rabbits, hares and deer. In spring, summer and autumn, they eat small mammals (rodents, rabbits, mice and voles), fawns, birds, amphibians, grasshoppers and wild berries. Coyotes may rummage through garbage when venturing into residential areas to find food.
In order to avoid conflicts with coyotes, here are several precautionary measures you can take:
- Keep all pet food inside.
- Put garbage in secure containers with sealed lids.
- Keep garbage inside until the garbage collection day.
- Use securely enclosed compost bins.
- Protect your garden with a fence or grow vegetables in a greenhouse.
- Fence your property to make it less accessible.
- Fill the empty spaces under porches, decks and sheds.
- Keep your cat indoors at night.
- Teach children to respect wildlife and keep their distance.
If you see a coyote:
- Do not approach or try to touch them.
- Do not feed them or attempt to tame them.
- Do not flee or run or turn your back on them. Back away while remaining calm.
- Get as high as possible, shake hands and make lots of noise.
- Use a whistle or personal alarm to scare a coyote who approaches you or threatening you.
- Do not let your dog chase a coyote. He could get hurt in a fight with the animal.
Coyotes have a tremendously positive impact on an area’s biodiversity and ecological integrity. It’s important to realize that lethal interference with coyotes does not resolve the situation. Killing them only disrupts the natural social order of the coyotes in the area and can actually create additional problems for people. Trapping coyotes for relocation has proven ineffective as well as being dangerous and inhumane. The Montreal SPCA believes that by taking precautionary measures and being intelligent about our interactions with coyotes, we can learn to coexist peacefully.