Letter: Government needs to step up to stop coyote attacks

Many of my neighbours and I take issue with your recent article (Coyote encounters concern residents) as it perpetuates the myth that learning to co-exist with urban wildlife is a reality that we must face, even if that wildlife attacks or kills our pets. In fact, we should not accept the presence of habituated dangerous predators in our backyards.

By speaking of coyotes in general, your article ignores the seriousness of the local situation, and relies upon information supplied by agenda-driven agencies that are not interested in protecting our neighbourhood.

For example, the Toronto Humane Society tells us that “removal of coyotes is expensive and ineffective” so we shouldn’t do it. Using this logic we should not remove criminals from our neighbourhood either, as they will be replaced by other criminals shortly thereafter. In fact, it is widely accepted policy and practice amongst wildlife managers that dangerous habituated animals must be removed from proximity to people.

The Toronto Wildlife Centre is also used as a resource in the article. This is an organization that releases coyotes into our city after treatment.

In our neighbourhood we are continually threatened by large carnivores roaming at will, supplementing their diets with our pet cats and dogs, and surviving (according to Toronto Animal Services staff) on handouts from members of our community who think it wise to feed these predators. Unfortunately, such feeding causes coyotes to lose their fear of humans, and to expand their habitat into our yards, and then kill our pet dogs and cats. When our dog was killed, we grieved. Now more neighbours are grieving and more will follow unless action is finally taken.

Your cartoon showing a one-ton weight dropped on the coyote(s) lightheartedly and accurately sums up the solution. According to current wildlife management practices, the solution to the problem of urban habituated coyotes that have lost their fear of humans and which attack and kill pets is euthanization.

That action prevents the potential next stage of behaviour; attacks on humans. Other jurisdictions in North America that have nuisance or habituated coyotes have seen attacks on humans follow the pet-killing stage.

Are we going to wait until someone is bitten to take action? I sincerely hope not and suggest that we demand our public servants do their jobs to help protect our pets and us.

Calling the mayor may drive a solution. Contacting our councillor’s office or Toronto Animal Services hasn’t worked. Hiring the right trapper certainly will.

Chris Peters

Kingswood Road

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In response to Chris Peters letter I would first like to offer my condolences on the loss of their pet. I cannot agree however that city officials should be encouraged to hop on the coyote euthanization band wagon when in fact more dogs bite people in this city than coyotes ever have. The fear mongering in your letter ie; “dangerous predators in our backyards” and “large carnivores roaming at will” are laughable as was the analogy between coyotes and criminals since, yes, criminals ARE replaced by criminals shortly thereafter, which is why we have a police department..And to answer your question”are we going to wait until someone is bitten to take action” the answer is yes we will wait due to the fact that coyote attacks on humans in this city is extremely rare.And only then should the culprit animal be relocated or destroyed.What’s next, do we wipe out skunks,opossums, hawks, raccoons? Well, maybe raccoons but the bottom line is as Elizabeth Glibbery of Toronto Animal Services states that coyotes have lived here for decades and people are not to leave their small pets unsupervised. Sadly, from what I have witnessed,many dog owners let their dogs run off leash owing to even further coyote attacks since they are only looking for food. Pets are the owners responsibility, not the governments..Another good thing about coyotes and wolves is they don’t bark!

Steve you seem well versed on the party line in the pamphlets issued by various city services on this issue but not the reality of the situation Chris and others face. As a fellow Kingston Road property resident, owner of one less cat this summer (unless you count leftover cat parts), someone who has actually heard the first hand stories from neighbours like Chris and has seen video of a neighbour throwing steaks over their fence to waiting coyotes, I have to ask: what would you call large predatory animals that hop backyard fences night or day, show almost no fear of humans, and have snatched small dogs directly off leash and carried them off? Because that’s what’s actually happening here. Yes, we all agree that if one finally carried off a casually attended baby on a backyard blanket something should be done. Why do we even need to go there and say that? It’s time for the city to stop sending out party line pamphlets and pay attention to what’s actually going on. This is a matter of basic prudence and recovery from a situation gone wrong, not amusing fearmongering. The only thing that is admittedly makes me chuckle just a little is picturing the decision makers sitting around a boardroom table with straight faces discussing that all these pet loving ravine loving owners just need to learn a little more love for nature.

Thanks for your condolences. There are many more condolences required for others that have lost their pets. I would like to point out that there is no bandwagon to hop on. Toronto doesn’t have a coyote euthanization policy or program and since the city ‘wildlife experts’ would like to ignore the studies that show we are at risk, it is unlikely we will see an action-oriented practice anytime soon.
Many negative occurences are rare in our society, however we still plan for them, and do our best to avoid them, so it seems irresponsible to me to ignore the risk we are facing and wait until a person is bitten before we remove the coyotes that have become habituated in our backyards.
No one is suggesting we more onto wipe out other animals. Just face the facts with these particular coyotes and deal with them. These intruders haven’t been here for decades. The first pet killer arrived about 10 years ago, and now there are at least two that are attacking medium and large sized dogs.
Finally, it is also clear that you are not in this neighbourhood as you haven’t heard the coyotes at night. They bark and yip and howl on a regular basis. Coyotes and wolves are good, when they are in their natural habitat, and not in our city backyards.

David and Chris, the simple fact is that small pets, and for God’s sake babies, should not be left outside unattended. This is especially true if you as an owner, or parent, know that you live in an area that is also inhabited by a predatory species. If your cat was kept indoors it would still have all of its bits securely attached. Also, I follow animal stories in the news and have not yet heard of dogs being snatched while walked on leash, can you provide verification of this event?

We have no right to kill wildlife because they make our lives inconvenient, and the life of your cat is of no greater worth than that of a coyote. These guys are here to stay, get used to it and work around it. Or move. Choice is yours.

P.S In case you were wondering, I am a pet owner and mother. 1 daughter, 1 son on the way, 2 dogs and 2 (indoor) cats.

Here’s another simple fact; coyotes have no more rights than other animals, including pets. Except that is wrong in this situation, as they are allowed to roam at will and kill less powerful creatures. Why is an intruding wild animal allowed to behave this way in the city, and be protected and fed while the killing continues?

Kyla, *yes* a neighbourhood dog was taken not so long ago, leash yanked out of hand, and yesterday evening another was snatched as he took his dogs off leash to let them inside. We hear it in person from other Kingston Rd residents, but here is an article on the latter for instance: http://www.insidetoronto.com/community-story/6922209-second-dog-killed-by-coyote-in-eastern-beach/.

You want to make sure I am well and fully blamed for the cat’s death, for not being able to ultimately prevent her from escaping the house and the fence, I accept that. But the cat incident is not reflective of the core issue here nor is an excuse to dismiss it.

This letter is about stepping up and doing *something* about a specific group of coyotes who have become dangerously unshy of humans, partly (the evidence would say) through human fault. What that something is would be a welcome discussion to get to but clearly we have not been able to get past preconceptions.

Coyote attacks on humans and pets are being reported nationally on a weekly basis. In SoCal, a number of humans have been attacked since August and a 6 yo was just attacked this October in Irvine, CA. Coyotes have no business attacking humans and pets; our pets and children do not “deserve to be eaten”. Coyotes are dangerous carnivores and need to be removed from urban areas. Of course, we can get rid of coyotes by hunting and trapping, humans have been controlling the coyote population for 400 years. The idea that we cannot get rid of urban coyotes is just nuttiness from the animal rights groups who think that your dog should indeed be declared coyote food. Coyotes are increasing exponentially in urban areas not because they are losing habitat, but because suburbia is a safe, protected environment with no predators and endless amounts of easy food. There are over 30M coyotes in the US and they are in no danger of extinction. But they do need to be removed from populated areas.
Local urban coyote management policy is being promulgated by animal nuts at the HSUS in Washington, various other animal rights groups, and Camilla Fox from Project Coyote in Marin, CA. These extremists believe that coyotes are adorable and that citizens should be ready to feed their pets and children to these wonderful creatures. I do not think any pet owner wants animal nuts in Washington deciding a public policy in which pets, children, and baby lambs will be used to nourish wild…

You have done your homework and know the facts. I nominate you as the ‘wildlife expert’ from which this newspaper should find out the facts about urban coyotes. Our media and politicians are hiding their heads in the sand and listening to misguided ‘experts’ who fail to present the whole picture of the threat to public safety.

I’m sure you’ll live without that coyote lurking in your yard every night waiting on your delicious pets. I say kill em’ all, softy.

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