A rash of close encounters with coyotes in the past few weeks has Etobicoke residents on edge.
Matthew Kenney walks his two dogs along Bloordale Park North and has had a couple of run-ins with the animals.
“One when my wife was alone on her own, we had a large coyote approach our dog and approach her in a very not-scared way,” said Kenney. “My other dog, Finn, had a coyote approach right up to him and approach me as well.”
“They’re bold, and they’re making attempts at trying to grab something and they’re not scared to do it.”
Etobicoke Centre Coun. Stephen Holyday says he’s received more calls of coyote sightings this year than average.
“We’ve seen more calls which means the coyotes are out looking for food,” said Holyday. “Coyotes tend to interact with people when they become used to them and many times that indicates that there’s some activity going on where somebody is providing food and they’re becoming used to humans.”
Coyotes have been a problem in Etobicoke before. In 2015, a slew of coyote attacks resulted in more than 30 cats going missing. But residents tell Global News that there have been more sightings of “bold” coyotes than central and southern Etobicoke has seen in recent memory.
“I’ve lived here for 15 years and this is the first year we’ve seen the coyotes out and about on the streets,” said Etobicoke resident Glynis George. She says she saw one only two weeks ago walking down a street she usually jogs through.
“He’s big. Looked more like a wolf to me than a coyote.”
Holyday says there was a public information session on coyotes to deal with the ongoing issue on April 12. The Etobicoke Centre councillor adds the seminar was very well attended, which shows how concerned residents are about the matter.
“I think many people are fearful; it’s more important to get the facts out,” said Holyday. “Some key lessons we learned was for dog walkers to make sure they keep dogs on a leash so there isn’t a conflict between the animals, to make sure pet waste is cleaned up, and to make sure no food waste is left to attract the coyotes.”
Holyday recommends dog walkers carry one of two items to scare away coyotes: an umbrella to open and shield yourself and your pet from the animal or a garbage bag to flap and make noise to scare away the coyote.
Meanwhile, the city and residents are struggling to find a long-term solution to the problem.
“I would like to see something as humane as possible because this is their habitat,” said George.
Kenney also suggested a humane approach executed by wildlife experts.
“Maybe … to catch and release somewhere else, to tranquillize — just get them out of the area. Let’s take them somewhere else so we can avoid human contact,” said Kenney.
“It’s clearly a problem and in my opinion it will be a child next, so how long?”