Brazen, foraging coyotes are again a regular sight on the streets of Niagara-on-the-Lake, especially in Garrison Village, and some people have taken to social media to urge the town to do more to control the wild animals.
“The town needs to do something. If they don’t, they obviously don’t care,” Facebook user Shelly Vandermeulen commented on a post about a coyote in Garrison Village.
At a council meeting Monday night, Lord Mayor Betty Disero tried to assure residents the town takes the matter seriously.
And chief administrator Marnie Cluckie said, “Public safety is of the utmost concern to us and we are taking these reports very seriously.”
She outlined some potential solutions and their legal parameters, noting relocating a coyote is not a viable option.
Under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, “removal or relocation of wildlife further than one kilometre is illegal,” she said. “And, unfortunately, if you take them only a kilometre away it does not take them long to find their way back.”
Cluckie said the town has authority to intervene “only when necessary due to an immediate threat.”
She suggested a few measures people can take to deter coyotes.
“Garbage should not be put out before 5 p.m. the day before and preferably not until the day of (pick-up),” she said.
She stressed that garbage containers need to be properly sealed and said the town will be working with the Region of Niagara to ensure residents follow garbage pick-up rules.
“If you encounter a coyote, yell in a firm voice or raise your hands above your head, bang pots or open an umbrella — anything you can to scare them.”
“If you have a small animal make sure you pick it up when a coyote is nearby because they don’t differentiate between a small dog or other prey.”
More than anything else, it is important that residents ensure there are no food sources to attract coyotes to their neighbourhoods, Cluckie said.
“Don’t feed the coyotes, don’t leave garbage out or bird seed on the ground, because that’s what seems to be encouraging the coyotes right now.”
She said the town has been sending out letters and patrolling problematic areas to keep people safe.
Disero said it is vital for the town to practise what it preaches in this scenario.
“If we’re asking people to put lids on things — I also passed a couple of parks and the park garbage cans also had garbage in them, overflowing and torn out and in the park,” she said.
“So, I am wondering, can we do something in our own house to assist?”
Cluckie said the town put lids on garbage cans last year in parks that were attracting coyotes. She said the town would work to put lids on other cans in problem areas.
She said the town is working with the Ministry of Natural Resources, Coyote Watch Canada and the Lincoln County Humane Society to address the coyotes.
Coun. Erwin Wiens, a longtime grape farmer and NOTL resident, said he has a policy of leaving coyotes alone at his farm.
But that’s on the farm.
“If you’re in a subdivision and these things are walking around, that’s a real problem we’ve got to deal with,” he said.
“Quite frankly, I think the only way you’re going to deal with them is you’ve got to shoot them or what else are you going to do?”
Wiens said it would be senseless to do such a thing in a rural neighbourhood where the coyotes have very little interaction with people and pose nearly no risk to people’s safety.