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Coyote spotted near downtown Toronto, prompts warning

coyotee 4A large coyote roaming through Cabbagetown on Sunday prompted police to issue a public safety alert, warning residents to keep close watch on their children and pets.
The animal was spotted by locals in the Sackville and Carlton Streets area, just west of Riverdale Farm, on Sunday morning. Police responded and saw the animal, but it fled into a ravine near Wellesley Park.

In a city with so many forested ravines, rail lines and hydro corridors, it is no surprise that coyotes have taken up residence. They have been seen around High Park, the Leslie Street Spit, and The Beaches and are even known to cross the ice to Centre Island.

“We don’t think of having wildlife within our parks and the like, but with the more mild winter it seems to be drawing them out a bit more and we’re getting sightings,” says Const. Wendy Drummond.


The animals are well-adjusted to urban life and will eat almost any small animal they can easily prey on, including rabbits, birds, mice and even a squirrel if they can nab one. They also have no qualms about picking off cats and small dogs and are attracted to garbage that is not securely stored.

Coyotes prefer to den in secluded locations, preferably on hillsides and near water — in some cases even in old groundhog holes, said Robert Meerburg of Toronto Animal Services. “Coyotes are not going to live in someone’s backyard, [they’re] not going to be curled up at the back door.”

While coyotes in Toronto do not pose a serious threat to humans, their appetite for pets and garbage can make them a nuisance.

Dan Frankian of Hawkeye, an animal control firm, said his company has removed five or six coyotes from southeast Toronto in the last year. The company will identify potential food sources and even the animals’ route, plugging data into a Google map as part of the process and get permission from the land owner to trap.

Another way to deter coyotes involves eliminating their habitat or food source, forcing the animal to relocate. “The main method right now is a lot of exclusion and repellents, [that’s] basically what we use,” said Terry Thorsell of Critter Control.

“It’s not that apparent that there’s a major problem, but I would say there is definitely a good small population of coyotes throughout Toronto.”

He believes the coyote population is on an upswing, partly due to the absence of rabies over the past several years. Also worth noting? February is coyote mating season.

Police warn residents not to feed coyotes and ask that they ensure garbage is carefully stored and inaccessible to animals. They also advise anyone who encounters a coyote to wave their arms aggressively and make loud noises to frighten it away. If this doesn’t work, back away slowly and do not run.

“If you corner them, they will come at you, but generally speaking they’re as scared [of you] as you are of them,” said Mr. Thorsell.

National Post |  | 


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