By MARIANA C. MORALES
It looks like Wile E. Coyote has brought some of his friends to the city, and he didn’t need Acme equipment to do it.
These yellow-eyed creatures have been spotted numerous times in Waterloo Region whether it’s in someone’s backyard or in a forest. They have caused a commotion not only here, but in other areas of southern Ontario as well. Early in January, a woman from Cambridge lost her beloved bichon/poodle cross, named Rocky, to a coyote at Dumfries Conservation area. A few weeks later in Oakville, an eight-year-old girl was bitten by one and police later shot it.
The number of coyotes is on the rise, and with this population increase there are more appearances. Nevertheless, they have been here for a long time. By having coyotes around, the raccoon population is kept under control and they are part of the urban ecosystem.
The Ministry of Natural Resources confirms that the coyote population is growing which in turn is causing all of the encounters. But what causes them to be a problem?
If you think about it, we all know the reason. Some people don’t see them as a threat and want to treat them differently by leaving food outside. By feeding them, coyotes no longer fear humans, and approach human areas more readily.
They’re usually scared of humans and by leaving food, you’re attracting them and making life easy. People think that they are doing something nice by feeding the animals, but it’s actually making things worse. Sometimes we feed them without knowing it by leaving garbage bags outside. The smell of garbage attracts not only raccoons, but coyotes who feed on raccoons and your garbage.
Coyotes not only lose their fear of humans, but they lose their interest in hunting animals. It’s easier to get winter food from a person than to hunt down a mouse or rabbit.
Since there have been numerous sightings of coyotes around the city, it’s important not to let your small pets outside unsupervised or leave food outside. Coyotes are territorial and will see your small animal as food or as a threat.
On the City of Kitchener website in an article on tips for co-existing with coyotes, it states, “It only takes one person to cause a problem for an entire neighbourhood.”