Coyote attacks are generally rare, but residents in Montreal’s Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough are on edge after three young children were bitten in separate incidents.
All three attacks happened in city parks in the span of a week.
Montreal police spokesperson Caroline Chevrefils said the most recent incident took place Saturday in Parc des Hirondelles at around 6:30 p.m.
She explained that people in the park tried to scare the animal away and as it fled, it bit a 3-year-old boy on his leg.
His injuries were superficial, but the boy’s father took him to hospital as a precaution.
A boy and a girl, both five years old, were also bitten in separate incidents last week — one at Parc des Hirondelles, the other at Parc Gabriel-Lalement.
Chevrefils said both suffered minor injuries.
The city has put up signs in the park warning residents that two coyotes with aggressive behaviour have recently been spotted in the park in the evening and during the night.
The city recommends that people avoid going to the park after sundown, keep their dogs on leashes and refrain from feeding or approaching coyotes in order to minimize incidents.
But residents in the area are worried.
Carlo Danello, who lives across the street from the park, says he and his children have spotted coyotes numerous times.
“Right here, across the street, 200 feet from my house, with my children and my pets,” he said. “It’s not good.”
Danello wonders why the city isn’t doing anything to get rid of the coyotes.
“There’s nothing being done about it and unfortunately, it’s probably going to take a really bad incident for the city to wake up,” he said.
Henry Martinis agreed the city should be doing more.
“To me, it’s not normal that a coyote should be in the city,” Martinis said. “I don’t understand why they don’t try to trap them and bring them out to the zoo in Saint-Felicien or something like that.”
According to the City of Montreal website, however, trying to control the coyote population through hunting and trapping has little impact on the actual numbers, and attempts at population management are often ineffective.
“It has been shown that coyote populations react to intensive pressure by increasing their reproductive rate from 30 to 100%,” the website reads.
A spokesperson for the city told Global News in a statement that intervention measures have been implemented in the boroughs of Ahuntsic-Cartierville and Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension, such as installing cameras and bait, and educating residents about how to coexist with the animals.
As part of that effort, a workshop will be held at Parc des Hirondelles Tuesday evening.
Additionally, patrols have also been put in place to scare the animals away, and the city is working closely with the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (MFFP), which is responsible for land and wildlife management in Quebec, to monitor the situation and to take appropriate measures.
“The safety of all citizens is a priority for the city of Montreal,” the statement reads.
For more information, consult the city’s website or call the Info-Coyote line at 438-872-COYO.
— With files from Global’s Felicia Parrillo