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'Unwanted neighbour': Toronto residents report rise in coyote sightings after food left outside for animals

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Residents in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood are raising concerns that someone is allegedly leaving meat outside for wild animals resulting in more coyote sightings.

Several residents in the area of Jane Street and Dundas Street West have told CP24 that they have seen a rise in coyotes in the past month.

Resident Alex Zacheja said coyote sightings are a regular occurrence for him when he walks around the neighbourhood.

“Probably for the last two months, I’ve encountered them daily around here and it’s on my walks which is about an hour, an hour and a half walk that I do with the dog in the morning,” Zacheja told CP24 on Wednesday.

“They seem to be aware that people don’t really do anything. They’ve become somewhat of an unwanted social neighbour,” he added.

Some area residents believe the increase in coyotes could be attributed to reports of someone leaving food for wild animals in school playgrounds.

“It’s well known that a woman has come regularly. Apparently she works in a butcher shop and she leaves meat and cheese and that’s perhaps what attracted the coyotes and people have put up signs discouraging her. And I haven’t seen it so much lately so hopefully that’s going to help,” a resident, who identified himself as Mark, told CP24.

A handwritten sign is currently taped to a post near King George Public School, on Willard Avenue near Jane Street, that reads “To the woman in the delivery van. Please don’t feed the animals. COYOTES!”

The rise in coyote sightings is unsettling for many residents, especially as there are several young children and dogs in the area.

“I do have concerns about all the people that are walking puppies in the neighbourhood, smaller dogs and if the coyotes are in a state where they, you know, are having a hard time with their food supply they might start looking at small dogs and cats and things like that,” Dean Hamilton, a resident in the area said.

In a video submitted to CP24 from a resident, a coyote is seen roaming the neighbourhood and howling at night.

Toronto Animal Services (TAS) said it is aware of the rise in coyote sightings and has recently delivered educational materials, such as flyers, and in-person education to residents.

The city has also posted a sign in the neighbourhood alerting residents about the recent sightings in the area.

“TAS will continue to assess the area in hopes of identifying and stopping the intentional feeding,” staff said in a statement to CP24.

A sign in Toronto's Junction neighbourhood is seen after some residents report that someone is leaving food in the area resulting in a rise of coyote sightings. (Courtesy Jackie Crandles)

Resident Les Tait said he uses loud noises to deter coyotes from coming close but sometimes that doesn’t seem to do the trick.

“I’ve got whistles, I’ve got a shaker and the whistles are not very effective. And they say shake a garbage bag. I think they’re going to become a bigger problem because they don’t seem to have any fear and they are very comfortable living around humans,” Tait said.

If confronted by a coyote, the city recommends not running away and to make yourself appear large, make loud noises and display aggressive behaviour.

The rise in coyote sightings comes after a coyote in Scarborough made headlines for chasing a 10-year-old girl and her dog, and leaving the dog with severe injuries last summer.

A month later the coyote was caught and relocated to a wildlife sanctuary in Rosseau, Ont.

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