No need for concern even as coyote sightings in London are up
LONDON, ONT. -- It was a confident stroll through an Oakridge backyard. The eastern coyote appeared very aware that it was being watched through the glass of the nearby home, but it cautiously remained on course.
“All canid species do their best to avoid humans wherever possible. They do see us as a threat and that’s a healthy dynamic,” according to City of London Ecologist Planner Emily Williamson.
An online discussion about the video included speculation that the creature was a coywolf; a hybrid between a coyote and a wolf. Coyote Watch Canada Director Lesley Sampson says the term is misguided.
“The name of coywolf became this ‘click’ phrase that people will use, and they don’t really quite understand what it is. So, our coyotes here have always been eastern coyotes and that’s who they are.”
Sampson says coyotes may look larger and more wolf-like with their heavy winter coats, but they’re still only about the size of a small to medium-sized dog, ranging from about 22 to 41 pounds.
Williamson says there may be more frequent sightings of coyotes and foxes because people are at home more often, or spending more time outdoors.
She says the city has stepped up efforts to educate people about how to ensure coyotes don’t get comfortable visiting the neighbourhood.
“It’s just important we do things like keep dogs on leashes, that we’re checking our backyards to make sure there aren’t any food sources available to them, and keeping cats indoors as well.“
Sampson says Coyote Watch Canada recently had to help with an intervention in London. A homeowner had been routinely feeding a coyote, which would travel through backyards, some with small dogs, in order to get its regular treat.
There was a discussion with the homeowner and a Coyote Response Team conducted an aversion conditioning session. Aversion conditioning includes using load noises, throwing objects near (but not at) the animal, and sometimes chasing it.
Sampson says the key is to cut off the food supply and make the neighbourhood less welcoming.
Williamson says residents should keep in mind that coyotes have a number of important roles, including rodent control.
“It’s important that folks are considerate of these animals. They do have an important place in our ecosystems, in the natural areas in the city. And they will continue to be here, so finding ways to coexist is essential.”
The city has a reporting tool on its website to allow them to track coyote interactions. Staff have also been working with Coyote Watch Canada on an expanded information campaign, which may include an e-learning tool.
(Article correction: A previous version of this article refered to "aversion therapy." The correct term is "aversion conditioning.")