Spring is part of the coyote’s denning season and, as such, we’re more likely to encounter or see the wild animals around our city. It’s also a good time to remind our residents about the steps they can take to help reduce the risk of potential coyote conflicts during the animal’s denning season.
Denning season refers to the time of year coyote pups are born. Shortly before a coyote gives birth, between April and May, the coyote will begin excavating a den that it will use to raise its pups.
“With the arrival of spring, it is a good opportunity to remind residents about the things we can do as a community to help prevent potential coyote conflicts. Research and past experiences have shown the most significant thing we can do to reduce direct interaction with coyotes is to remove coyote attractants, such as food — this includes direct feeding (leaving food outdoors for coyotes) and indirect feeding (garbage left at the curb overnight or rotting fruit on the ground from fruit trees).” — Grant Ziliotto, Manager of Bylaw Enforcement, Licensing and Animal Services
While naturally wary of humans, coyotes will seek food and shelter in residential neighbourhoods when the opportunity arises.
Here are the Top 5 things residents can do to help deter coyotes:
- Never feed coyotes — Feeding coyotes, directly or indirectly, teaches them to depend on human handouts and can cause them to become too familiar with humans. This can lead to aggressive behaviour near people and dogs.
- Never leave pets unattended — Coyotes can view pets as a threat to their territory and may attack, especially when there is a den site nearby. Always keep dogs on a short leash (less than six foot long) when walking outdoors and avoid retractable leashes. Ensure your cats and dogs are not unattended, especially at night, even in your fenced backyard.
- Maintain a tidy property — Residential neighbourhoods are an ideal coyote habitat with an availability of water, shelter and food sources like garbage, pet food, fruit tress and bird feeders. Make sure your property is tidy and clear of garbage, food, brush, long grass and wood piles which are ideal den sites for coyotes or other wild animals that attract coyotes.
- Inspect your property — Make sure spaces around and/or under decks, sheds and similar structures are closed off with wire screening that extends at least 20 centimetres under the ground.
- Consistently haze coyotes — Deterring coyotes takes vigilance. Consistent efforts by the entire community to haze coyotes can help to re-instill their fear of humans and discourage undesirable behaviour.
Use one or more of the following hazing techniques every time you see a coyote to help move it out of a residential area:
- Yell loudly;
- Wave your arms and make yourself look as big as possible;
- Use air horns, whistles, bang pots;
- Throw small rocks, large sticks, cans and or rubber balls near the coyote, but don’t hit the wild animal; and
- Spray the coyote with water from a garden hose or a water gun filled with vinegar.
In situations where a coyote approaches, residents are reminded of the following:
- Stop. Don’t run;
- Pick up small children and pets;
- Stand as tall as you can;
- Make noise, be as loud as you can, shout “go away”;
- Wave your arms and stomp your feet;
- Use hazing techniques;
- Back away slowly;
- Report coyote sightings online at www.burlington.ca/coyote;
- Call Burlington’s Animal Services at 905-335-3030 if you see an aggressive, sick or injured coyote; and
- Call 9-1-1- if a coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety.
Coyotes can be a common sighting in some areas of our city, especially during their denning seasons, so it is important we learn how to live safely alongside these creatures. The City of Burlington and our Animal Control Staff have several resources with this goal in mind. Some residents have suggested culling coyotes as a solution, especially when encounters with a coyote have negative outcomes. What we have been advised by the Ministry of Natural Resources is that if coyotes are culled, new coyotes would move into this territory. It is very difficult to keep them out completely, but one of the appropriate actions we can take as residents is making sure we eliminate food sources that can attract coyotes and other wild animals.
- Coyotes are native to North America and can be found living in urban and rural areas.
- Food sources like mice, rats, and garbage are readily available in urban areas, attracting coyotes to residential neighbourhoods.
- In 2015, Burlington City Council approved a Coyote Response Strategy that provides guidelines on preventing and managing conflicts with coyotes.
- Concerns about direct or indirect feeding of wildlife can be reported to Animal Control at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hand feeding and ground feeding wildlife on private or public property is prohibited by the city’s Lot Maintenance Bylaw (59-2018) and is subject to a $300 fine.
- To request an audit of your yard for coyote attractants by city Animal Control staff, please email email@example.com.
Links and Resources
Learn more about living with coyotes and/or Report a coyote sighting online at www.burlington.ca/coyote
Watch a video about how to wildlife proof your property