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Niagara Falls
Friday, July 12, 2024
Editorial: Please don’t feed the coyotes

It's coyote season in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Again.

The canids are leaving their dens, looking for food and, in many cases, scaring the heck out of residents.

People's fears are justified. Indeed, these are wild animals and hence can be unpredictable. 

When a large coyote follows you or seems to be stalking you or your pet, it is only natural to be worried for your safety.

It could get worse before it gets better. As The Lake Report has documented in the past after speaking to experts in animal behaviour, soon the coyotes will be having pups and will be looking to feed them. Mice, squirrels, rats and other small animals are their usual meal preference.

But small pets, as we've heard anecdotally from people who have had frightful encounters, could be seen by coyotes as a potential meal.

Most of our townsfolk make their home in urban areas of NOTL – like the Village and Garrison Village, but other areas across town as well. With development, the environment gets disrupted and changed.

The habitats of wild animals are destroyed in many cases to make way for homes. But, as well, forest management rehabilitation practices by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority also may have been a contributing factor.

A large swath of Two Mile Creek, near the end of Butler Street and bordering both the Village and Garrison neighbourhoods was disrupted last summer to remove scores of ash trees and other debris. Necessary work.

How much of a role that work played in destroying coyote habitats remains to be seen. It certainly looks a mess.

But all these issues are just some of the factors in play. The biggest concern is probably: How do we solve the problem?

Well, that is something we need to look to experts for advice on and the Town of NOTL is doing just that.

(And yes, despite some inane musings and commentary on social media, there are scientific experts who study animal behaviours – and know what they're talking about.)

It might not provide any short-term solace to walkers who decide they need to carry a big stick, just in case. But there is a really simple thing that we all can do to help deter the foraging coyotes.

Don't leave any kind of food out where they can get it. Seems like a simple request, but last garbage pickup, we saw many people still putting out the trash the day or evening before pickup. That's a coyote magnet, especially in the problem areas.

(Of course, with green bins and alternate week garbage pickup, there shouldn't be any tasty organics in the trash to attract them. But some humans have not yet changed their behaviour.)

The coyotes are not going away. They'll be feeding their offspring till sometime in June. Shooting and relocating them appear to not be practical solutions. And we can lament the fact that if it weren't for development … but that ship has sailed.

Let's deal with the problem. The first step starts with making a concerted, community-wide effort to not put out any kind of food that might attract them. (And certainly don't feed them deliberately!)

If they can't score an easy meal on your street, chances are they'll stay in the forested areas and do what comes naturally there.





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