Town of Oakville implements new initiatives to address public concern over coyotes

Wednesday, February 08, 2012 – for immediate release

Town of Oakville implements new initiatives to address public concern over coyotes

The Town of Oakville is taking a leadership role in creating a comprehensive coyote education and conflict reduction program to address public concern over coyotes. According to Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Biologist John Pisapio, the key to avoiding conflict is to allow coyotes to exist in their natural environment and to not attract them by providing easily accessible food.

Research and experience gained by other municipalities dealing with coyotes has shown the two most significant things the town can do to reduce issues with coyotes is education and the removal of coyote attractants. The town has designed a comprehensive program to address both of these issues. Key elements of the town’s program are:

Working with the MNR to train town and humane society staff and police to better understand the difference between normal and abnormal coyote behaviour to help determine risk and when to intervene
Adopting a protocol to respond quickly when intervention is required
Adopting stronger penalties for feeding of coyotes and dumping of garbage in town ravines and parks
Posting signs in areas where coyotes have been seen so people won’t be surprised by their presence and will know what to do if one is encountered
Establishing a reporting system to allow the public to report incidents of unusual coyote behaviour or incidents where coyotes are being fed
Installing wildlife-proof lids on town garbage bins in areas where problems exist
Providing a phone number on garbage bins in parks so that residents can call the town to empty overflowing garbage. Residents will be reminded to not dump household garbage into town bins as this will encourage coyotes to frequent these areas
Working with schools in Oakville to provide education on what to do if you see a coyote
Continuing to provide information at on how to safely coexist with coyotes
Working with Halton Region to educate the public on proper storage of their green bin and compost

“The town takes any animal incident seriously, whether it’s a coyote or a dog bite,” Mayor Rob Burton said. “The town is prepared to take action when a specific coyote begins to exhibit problem behaviour and we work with MNR staff to be able to respond quickly before a problem becomes worse.”

Incidents of coyote attacks on people are extremely rare. Halton Public Health reports that in 2009–2010 there were no reported incidents of coyotes biting or scratching a person. In comparison, a total of 281 incidents occurred with cats and 222 with dogs.

The town has information available on its website for those wanting to know more about coyotes. Key things to keep in mind about coyotes:

February is mating season, which means coyotes are more active during this time, making them more visible
If you encounter a coyote, make noise and make yourself seem even bigger. An average adult coyote is about 35 pounds and will be intimidated by people. While they may stop and observe, they will eventually run
Do not run away or turn your back on them. A coyote is hardwired to chase. Stand your ground and then back slowly away while making loud noises
Coyotes cannot distinguish between a small pet and their prey. When you’re walking your dog, keep them on a short leash. Cats should not be left outdoors alone
If you feel your personal safety is immediately at risk call 911

A video tape of Tuesday night’s presentation and a list of questions and answers from the public meeting will be available on the featured wildlife page. The town’s Wildlife Strategy is also available for review.

Media contact

Cindy Toth
Director, Environmental Policy
905-845-6601, ext. 3299

Mary Jo Milhomens 
Senior Communications Advisor 

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Town of Oakville implements new initiatives to address public concern over coyotes