Toronto dog owners warned of coyote threat

It’s coyote mating season, and Toronto dog owners are being warned to keep their pets on-leash when walking and to supervise them when out in their backyards, says a City news release.

While coyotes are not a threat to humans, the release says January and February are the pet predators’ peak mating season, and as such, they are more visible and active. It is easier to spot coyotes in parks and ravines at this time of year, as they are not hidden by foliage, adds the release.

“Coyotes generally do not pose a danger to people but can pose a danger for pets; it is not uncommon for coyotes to injure or kill cats and small dogs,” says the release. “The City is aware of two incidents this month where dogs have been taken from backyards near ravines and killed by coyotes.” The areas where the two dogs were killed are North York near Finch Avenue East and Bayview Avenue, and Blythwood Ravine Park in the Mount Pleasant Road and Lawrence Avenue East area. 

“Residents living near green spaces, ravines, and other areas where there are coyotes, should only take pets out into their backyard with them and supervise their pets at all times. Cats should be kept indoors or supervised while outside,” the City said.

The City advises that when walking, “keep dogs on leash and close by at all times, especially in areas of Toronto where there are known to be coyotes. Allow dogs off-leash only in designated dog-off-leash areas, stay close and ensure dogs respond well to voice commands.”

Further, the City reminded people that it is not uncommon to see coyotes, which are part of Toronto’s “natural urban landscape” and are an “important part of the ecosystem” that control rodent and rabbit populations, during the winter months.

If you see someone feeding a coyote, the City asks that you report them to 3-1-1. To report a coyote sighting, call 16-338-PAWS (7297).

City coyote tips:

  • “Never feed coyotes.
  • Do not approach coyotes, their dens, or their young.
  • Do not touch coyotes, even if they appear tame, sick, or injured.
  • Keep your dog on a leash.
  • If you see a coyote, do not run but make some noise to scare it away.
  • Dispose of garbage and waste before leaving parks.”

If a coyote is near your home or property:

  • “Encourage the coyote to keep moving by shouting and gesturing aggressively.
  • There is probably a food source either in your yard or your neighbour’s yard.”

To stop a coyote from coming into your yard:

  • “Avoid feeding your pets outdoors.
  • Store garbage, recycling, and organics properly.
  • Remove dense brush and weeds to minimize hiding spots.”

 “Coyotes are naturally timid and flee when confronted aggressively,” says the City. “Never run away from a coyote. The following actions teach coyotes to fear humans.

  • Be Big: Stand up and raise your arms in the air. Appear as large and threatening as possible.
  • Be Loud: Stomp your feet, clap your hands, and yell “go away coyote” to alert people nearby.
  • Be Threatening: Throw a tennis ball or a small pebble or stick at the coyote, but only to show the coyote who is boss – not to injure!
  • Avoid turning your back, maintain eye contact, and slowly back away.”