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The Weather Network
Apr. 19, 2019 | Friday
Local News
Plenty residents can do to minimize coyote problems, expert says
Lesley Sampson, founder of Coyote Watch Canada, spoke at the NOTL Community Centre Wednesday. (Brittany Carter/NiagaraNow)

Spring is an active time of year for wild animals, including coyotes, and there’s plenty NOTL residents can do to minimize problems, a local coyote expert says.

When Lesley Sampson, founder and executive director of Coyote Watch Canada, investigated coyote sightings in Niagara-on-the-Lake earlier this winter she quickly found what likely was attracting the animals.

“We saw french fries from McDonald’s under bird-feeders on a sidewalk, off of private property, right on to actual public property,” Sampson said after she and two local residents looked into the coyote sightings.

She said the food, as well as bird feeders, can attract other small animals and birds of prey.

Once she advised on ways to solve the problem, residents took action, Sampson said in an interview.

“They worked very quickly in that community, and with (stopping) the feral cat feedings as well. It ended up really quickly changing, it was quite a shift.”

Sampson, who spoke Wednesday at the NOTL Community Centre, stresses the importance of being nature resilient. She wants residents to understand the important role they play in keeping the community and the ecosystem safe. 

“This time of year is a busy time for all wildlife families. Understanding the seasonal milestones that not just coyotes but other animals go through this time of year (is important).”

And it’s not only coyotes that area residents need to be concerned about.

“Most people who have small dogs do not take into consideration that they’re just letting their dog out back. They have a bird feeder. A great horned owl or hawk will take that dog or small cat in the blink of an eye, and you’ll never know what happened.”

Pet safety and care is something people don’t think about when it comes to coyotes and other predators, she said.

Through education and community involvement, she hopes to send the message about the role coyotes and other animals serve in the ecosystem. It’s not about removing them from town, it’s about conditioning them to continue taking care of themselves.

“They’re completely losing the connection within an ecosystem. If you think you have a high-high fence, and you let your dog out in the middle of the night, and you’ve also got a bird feeder. Wildlife is so savvy and intelligent,” Sampson said.

“Coyotes are so well-equipped to provide for their families, they do not need our hand-outs. They are really great, they provide a great eco-service to the community.”

Most important, Sampson said the fear of coyotes needs to be eliminated. Respect and knowledge can go a long way.

“Fear is not an appropriate response. Or indifference. People having a coyote bed down in their backyard, that’s not appropriate either.”

Sampson runs the Coyote Watch Canada program in Niagara Falls, but there are canid response teams across Canada. She’d like to recruit volunteers to help out in NOTL.

“We get reporting from residents from Niagara-on-the-Lake. It would be nice to have a response team developed. So, I’m looking to hopefully recruit some volunteers as well.”

Coyote sightings can be reported through the Coyote Watch Canada website. Anyone looking to get more involved can contact Sampson through info@coyotewatchcanada.ca.

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