Roaming coyotes have harassed and sparked fear among people living around Garrison Village after several harrowing close encounters over the past few weeks.
Stories have ranged from coyotes picking through people’s garbage to one incident where a coyote apparently had a small dog in its mouth before the dog was rescued.
And residents are worried about walking and enjoying the neighbourhood they live in as the coyote menace seems to be lurking around every corner. Some dog walkers have been seen carrying large sticks and baseball bats.
Several accounts of encounters have been posted on social media and coyotes are the first topic of conversation among many people out and about in town.
Resident Stephanie Penman said she chased a coyote off her neighbours’ front porch, only to see the canid return 30 minutes later and continue prowling the neighbourhood.
“I would understand if it was looking for food for pups, but it’s not where the pups would be,” Penman said in a Facebook message.
Margaret Mancuso recounted the story of a coyote attack on a small dog in a Facebook post.
“It got the dog in its mouth and proceeded to shake him – the dog was on a leash and the woman was unable to pick the dog up,” Mancuso wrote.
“The little dog was wearing a coat and it flew out of its coat while the coyote had it in its mouth, shaking it.”
Mancuso wrote that the coyote was generally fearless of humans.
“Please understand that yelling, honking of car horns and moving vehicles did NOTHING,” her post read.
“I can’t stress enough how awful this was. Please be careful if you are out walking in Garrison Village.”
Everyone involved in the incident and the dog were safe, according to Mancuso.
On Tuesday, Selma Pacheco made a Facebook post saying a coyote chased her German shepherd right up to her house.
The coyote was not afraid of her husband, who was screaming at it, and the animal stared at him for a while before walking away.
“Please spare me your ‘we need to co-exist comments.’ This is an awareness post for the neighbours to continue to be vigilant, even if walking a large dog,” she wrote.
“Pretty sad it’s coming to a point in time where I no longer feel safe taking my kids for a walk without carrying a weapon,” Facebook user Jenn Jones commented on a video of a coyote lunging at a woman and her dog posted by Penman.
One Facebook user asked if people “miss the hunters yet” and another wrote “I am an animal lover but this is ridiculous and has to stop ….it is unsafe for our pets and children.”
Garrison Village resident Helen Gadsby said a coyote followed her and her two dogs right up to their backyard gate.
It happened twice in a row, she said, and her husband Garth tried to scare it off with a broom. “We don’t want to hurt it because then you’ve got a mad coyote on your hands,” Gadsby said.
The coyote crossed the street and then returned as soon as things quieted down, she said. “It has no fear.”
“When you have a coyote, or a couple, who have no fear of humans and the humans aren’t even comfortable walking their dogs now — what has to happen in order for something to happen?”
“I am nervous. I don’t mind looking at them but when they follow me right up to my front gate, I know they want (my dog) Marnie for breakfast or lunch.”
Gadsby said she hopes the coyote can be relocated and is not in favour of any violence.
Some of the online rhetoric rings true for her, such as the idea that extensive development has uprooted the coyotes and caused them to embrace unconventional ways of searching for food.
But she also said that type of criticism is redundant, since the development is done and can’t be changed.
As well, she doesn’t want people to assume all coyotes need to be removed or relocated.
“It’s not all coyotes, no. It’s just these two rogue coyotes that have become a problem,” she said, assuming there are two coyotes sourcing their meals from Garrison Village.
But some of the commentary online has been unfounded and rude, Gadsby says.
“There’s people going, ‘Oh, you guys are from Toronto.’ Well, I’m not from Toronto, I came from way up north and I didn’t even have this problem up north,” she said.
Gadbsy said she agrees that people in Garrison Village need to work together to mitigate anything that may be attracting the coyotes into the neighbourhood.
“There’s total responsibility on the residents,” she said.
But she also noted residents of NOTL pay high property taxes and she expects the town to do more.
Gadbsy encouraged people to stop putting out bird feeders and only to set their garbage out on the day of pick up.
“I think everyone needs to understand that we are all on the same side. We’re just trying to find a solution to make people feel safe.”