by Alex Gregory
“Can you confirm that this is a coyote? Saw him trotting around my old Brampton neighbourhood this morning.”
Those were the words of Jessica Brian, a local resident who spotted a distant four-legged animal and posted a photo on social media to ask for help identifying the creature.
The animal Brian saw is just one of several apparent coyote sightings throughout Peel Region over the last few months, with incidents in Clarkson and the Williams Parkway area drawing attention online for their brazen behaviour in local neighbourhoods.
A video posted on Jan. 12 by Twitter user “Joonyah” shows a coyote trotting through a parking lot in the Heart Lake and Bovaird area late at night. “Heard some howling, and saw three go by… such beautiful creatures,” the post read. Another note, posted by local realtor, showed a clear photo of a coyote trotting past houses early in the morning.
Several coyote sightings have been reported so far this year, with local councillors cautioning residents not to go near or feed them.
“Report sightings, keep cats inside and dogs on leashes.. and do not feed wildlife,” Mississauga councillor Karen Ras wrote in a community response late last year, in response to sightings around the Lorne Park area. The city’s Animal Services division has been working with residents and city staff to identify, catch and release coyotes in unpopulated areas.
In Brampton, signs warning anyone using recreational trails that coyotes might be in the area are posted in key locations, including parks near the Etobicoke River.
The issue of coyote encroachment into Brampton has been a long-running issue in the city, with councillors pledging action in the past to curb interactions between coyotes and humans.
So far, there have been no reports people being bitten or of attacks on pets. Residents should refrain from interacting with or feeding coyotes, a Brampton councillor said.
“Feeding the coyotes is never a good idea as it will lead them closer to the homes, make them less afraid of humans and encourage them to stay in the area where they know there is a food source,” Brampton councillor Jeff Bowman told Peel Weekly News in 2017, after a rash of sightings throughout the city.
Coyotes are not known for attacking humans, but in recent years there have been a growing number of incidents in past years which the predators have bitten people.
Last year, a woman reported being attacked by a pack ofcoyotes during an incident in Etobicoke Creek Park. In 2017, several incidents were reported to Mississauga and Brampton of dogs being attacked and/or killed by coyotes.
In 2014, at least two people reported being bitten by coyotes in Brampton, prompting 50 residents to sign a petition demanding the city take action to get rid of the animals.
In 2009, a 19-year-old Toronto woman was killed in a coyote attack in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It is the only known fatality in Canada involving coyotes.
Animal Services recommends residents never leave children unattended in an area where coyotes have been spotted.
They also warn pet owners their animals could be attacked by coyotes if left unattended.
The city is limited somewhat in terms of what it can do about these animals due to Provincial regulations.
Residents who spot a coyote can report the sighting by calling Mississauga Animal Services at (905) 615-3000, Brampton Animal Services at (905) 458-5800R or the Toronto Wildlife Centre hotline at (416) 615-3000.