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Saturday, November 26, 2022
Walk tall and carry a big stick: Garrisonresident fears more coyote confrontations

A man walks with a club slung over one shoulder, a whistle around his neck, a dog tugging at its leash in his other hand. Cautious, his eyes dart from bush to alley looking for any signs of danger.

No, this isn’t the portrait of a Guardian Angel in New York City in the late 1970s. This is Garrison Village, 2022, and the figure is Brad Hamilton.

Like many other residents in the neighbourhood around Garrison Village, Hamilton is taking safety into his own hands after a string of confrontations with coyotes was reported on social media over the past few weeks in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“We’ve been attacked twice,” Hamilton said in an interview as he was out for a walk with his dog Tanner.

The first incident was about two weeks ago.

“My partner was walking, coyote came out of nowhere and he got Tanner up into his arms but (the coyote) was nipping at him,” Hamilton said.

“A neighbour came out of their house with an umbrella to whack it away. Finally, they threw a poop bag and it distracted him and then they ran.”

The second incident occurred on Tuesday, April 5. Hamilton said he was walking along Brock Street with Tanner when he felt the coyote rub against the back of his legs.

“I just happened to be in a stairway area. I flung Tanner up onto the porch and ran up to grab a stick out of a display. I turn around and the coyote is coming up, growling at me,” he said.

“Then a beige car pulls up and a man starts yelling at the coyote and he yells to me, ‘Give me a stick.’ So, I toss him a stick, I’ve got the other one, then the door opened and a lady was there in her housecoat and said, ‘Give me your dog. Give me your dog.’ ”

“So, she takes Tanner into the house and then the coyote ran around — it was the big one, it was the 70 pounder — it kind of got pinned between the two houses.”

“We backed off and let it come out. There was a great big metal, I guess, electricity box, and we were banging on that and it finally took off.”

Hamilton said the coyote had come out from between two homes and he had also seen it running south toward the vineyards near the Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery.

At that time, he said he knew of about 15 coyote incidents in Garrison Village and the Village neighbourhoods.

Hamilton said he is a huge animal lover and even helps run a dog shelter in Mexico City. But he said there is clearly something wrong in Garrison Village.

“You know it’s pretty bad when you have to carry a stick and be watching over your shoulder every five minutes” worried about being attacked.

He said many people are walking Garrison Village with similar defensive gear and noted one family he knows no longer lets their children play outside.

“This idea of live and let live, there’s limits,” he said with a sigh.

Hamilton worries for the coyote’s safety if it keeps trying to snatch people’s pets and harassing individuals.

“I will kill it if it comes at me again and starts attacking me, and it’s only in self-defence and only because it’s happened twice already,” he said.

With the number of incidents already, he worries it’s inevitable something bad will happen if the situation is not resolved.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Somebody’s dog’s going to be killed, a child could be attacked — or even worse,” he said.

He referred to the death of Taylor Mitchell, a Canadian who was attacked and killed by a pack of coyotes in Cape Breton in 2009.

“We don’t want something like that happening here,” he said, adding the last thing he wants is to see the coyotes hurt. He’d prefer to see them relocated somewhere far away, if possible.

However, Town of NOTL chief administrator Marnie Cluckie has said that under Ontario’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, coyotes can only be relocated a distance of one kilometre.

“I’m doing everything everyone is telling me to. I’m confronting them, I’m blowing the whistle, but …” Hamilton trailed off.

“If we’re out walking and we’re all paranoid, something’s wrong,” he said.