Coyote attacks leave Beaches residents wondering about city intervention
Dog owners in the Beaches area are on high alert after a woman’s pet was grabbed by a coyote in her backyard.
Heather, a longtime Neville Park Boulevard resident who didn’t want her last name published, said she had let her two dogs, Mia and Dave, outside. Soon afterwards, she heard a commotion and went to take a look.
“And I saw the tail and animal right there. And I saw the tail and Mia right there, where the blood is, just sitting quivering and then the coyote jumped off here and took off,” Heather said.
When the coyote left, Dave was gone and there were scratch marks on the deck.
But this isn’t the first time a dog was attacked by a coyote in the Beaches. Video footage from 2014 shows a coyote nicknamed Neville in the same area. He attacked and killed a Maltese.
Another area resident, Dawn Witghman, said her dog also had a run-in with a coyote.
“I saw her in the mouth,” she said, “the coyote had her by the back leg and she had screamed because it had her by the back leg.”
The coyote dropped Bella as it leapt over a fence.
Now some residents are frustrated the city is doing little to prevent these attacks.
“And everybody says there is nothing we can do unless it harms a human,” Heather said, “which is ridiculous. Is it going to take a tragedy for a child to be taken from them to do anything about it?”
On the City of Toronto website, there is an option to fill out a form to report a coyote sighting. However, there are few conditions that allows Toronto Animal Services to remove a coyote from an area.
“Conditions for removal will not normally include an attack or bite on another animal as this is normal coyote behavior…” according to the city’s coyote response strategy online.
If a coyote is exhibiting behavior that is considered a threat to public safety, it can be removed. If it is injured, sick or debilitated, it may also be captured and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation centre or be euthanized.
Toronto Animal Services can also remove a coyote if a human is attacked or bitten.
A large part of the city’s strategy is education. They said residents should be aware of the presence of coyotes in their neighbourhood by checking with local veterinarians, pet owners and pet shops. There is also a bylaw that enforces no-feeding provisions.
It is an offence “for anyone to feed wildlife, including coyotes, in public parks,” according to the city. All yards or parts of public property must “be kept free from refuse, garbage, pests, and conditions that may attract pests or constitute a health, fire or other hazard. Garbage and refuse that is kept on private property has to be stored in receptacles.”
The city provided the following safety tips for residents who walk in parks with coyote activity:
- Carry a personal audible alarm (it will deter a coyote and bring attention to yourself in case you needed help)
- Carry a bright flashlight (bright light has been known to deter coyotes)
- Keep your pet leashed
- Keep an umbrella in close reach (the action of opening/closing will deter a coyote)
- If you are approached by a coyote make yourself appear larger and shout and/or clap your hands together
- Stay calm, hold your ground
- Never run
Animal services can be contacted at 416-338-7297.
With files from Austin Delaney