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Coyote encounter unnerves woman

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An evening walk along the trails of Westminster Ponds in southeast London, Ont. turned into a frantic scene for Denise Singh and her two dogs.

“I’m obviously kind of traumatized by the situation. I’m not going to lie. It was very scary for me,” said Singh.

The walk along the path started as routine for Singh, until she noticed they were not alone.

“My dog had kind of ran into the woods and I was just kind of keeping an eye on her, happened to turn around behind me and noticed another ‘dog’ that was going into the woods after her. I kind of waited a couple of seconds, then I didn’t see any other human behind it, and that’s when I knew it was a coyote,” she said.

Singh admitted she panicked at that point and directed her dogs to run. The coyote followed.

Despite her yelling, the coyote stayed within 6 metres until Singh and her dogs reached the parking lot, and continued to watch while Singh crossed Pond Mills Road.

Brian Salt from Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Centre said coyotes are curious by nature.

“They’re quite playful animals as well. There’s very little danger with a single coyote. If there was a group of them, that could be a little more concerning,” said Salt.

According to Salt, one of the most common mistakes people make when encountering a coyote is running from it.

“That’s probably one of the worst things you can do, is to turn tail and run, because that evokes a response from the animal that they want to play. And so they’re going to follow you right? And that creates all kinds of problems,” he said.

For Singh, who had never encountered a coyote before, it was a moment that she went with her instincts

“Personally, I don’t know how you stay calm in that kind of a situation. I think had it not been jogging along behind me, I might not have been as frantic as I was, but I was screaming and I was running, it didn’t seem the least bit fearful of my reaction,” said Sing. “So, I don’t know if I would have done anything differently.”

Signs are posted near the entrance to Westminster Ponds indicating coyotes have been sighted in the area, and lists things you should and should not do when encountering one.

Salt also gives similar advice on how to scare off the creatures, “Put your arms in the air, wave them, yell at them, stomp your feet. That’s usually enough to let them know they’re not welcome.”

Salt also said if you are concerned about coyotes coming into your neighbourhood, it is important to not leave any food that might attract them into your yard.

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