Frank Klees

Frankly Speaking

January 31, 2012

Coyotes: Learn to Live With Them

 

I often get asked what kind of issues I get called about as MPP. My response is always the same. If you can think of it, I get called about it.

Coyotes in Aurora !

I must admit that even after 16 years of taking calls from constituents about everything from school yard bullying to gaps in health care and countless other provincial issues, I was caught off guard when I started to get calls and emails about...coyotes!

One thing I've learned in my time in public office is never to minimize a call from a constituent. It is understood that every call is important and demands our attention. That's why, when we started hearing about encounters with coyotes, I felt compelled to take their concerns seriously. 


Coyote Public Information Meeting
 
As the calls continued to come in, I contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources to advise them of residents' concerns. After a very informative discussion with John Almond, the MNR Area Supervisor, I realized that two things needed to happen. One, residents needed to be informed about the habits and behaviour of coyotes and what they can do to avoid conflicts with these animals. Second, the MNR needed to hear from residents about their encounters with coyotes to ensure that appropriate measures are taken.

 
Mayor and Local Media Was Responsive

Most of the calls I had received were from Aurora residents, so I called Aurora Mayor Geoff Dawe to let him know of my plans to host a public information meeting with the MNR on the coyote issue. I want to thank him for his assistance in facilitating the meeting at the Aurora Town Hall on very short notice.

My next call was to our local media to alert them to the issue. I want to thank The Auroran for the story it carried that not only helped raise public awareness of the issue, but also helped to get the word out about the public information meeting.


Standing Room Only...

Despite the short notice, more than 200 people attended what proved to be a most informative meeting.

MNR biologist John Pipasio gave a compelling presentation on coyotes, their habitat, behaviour and valuable advice on how to avoid coyote conflicts. A summary of the key points of the MNR presentation can be found on my website.


Avoiding Coyote Conflicts

What the MNR made clear is coyotes are here to stay, and it's up to us to learn how to live with them and avoid conflicts.

"In almost every case where coyotes are found to be aggressive towards humans, our research has shown that someone was feeding them" said Mr. Pipasio. His message was clear.


Never feed coyotes!

Feeding coyotes makes them less fearful of humans and habituates them to foods provided by humans. Once they identify humans as a source of food, they will approach them looking for food and when it's not made available, anything can happen.


Another stern warning:

Don't let pets chase coyotes. Chances are that the pet will not fare well. Cats are especially vulnerable.

Finally, if you happen to encounter a coyote, here's some practical advice:

1) Never approach the animal;

2) Do not turn your back or attempt to run from a coyote;

3) Back away from the coyote while remaining calm;

4) Stand tall, wave your hands and make lots of noise;

5) If walking or jogging at night in areas frequented by coyotes, carry a flashlight to scare them off.

And if a coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety,
CALL 911!


Next steps resulting from the Information Meeting

1) MNR recommended that municipalities post signs in areas where coyotes are known to frequent. Mayor Dawe agreed to follow up on this advice.

2) I requested that the MNR keep a record of calls from residents reporting aggressive coyote behavior in order to track their location and to ascertain what further steps may be necessary to ensure the safety of residents;

3) The MNR advised that No Feed By-laws are in place in many municipalities. As the feeding of coyotes is a major contributing factor to their aggressive behaviour towards humans, I would encourage Aurora and Newmarket Councils to implement similar By-laws.


MNR Hotline to report coyotes exhibiting aggressive behaviour:

Call 905-713-7400 and select (5) to speak to the agent. Ask the agent to make note of your call for tracking purposes as recommended by your MPP.

I want to thank the MNR for agreeing to attend the meeting on very short notice and for delivering such an informative presentation. Much was accomplished by simply providing factual information and advice to residents about an issue that may otherwise have caused unnecessary and unfounded concern. 

As always, I welcome your comments and advice. Please call me at 905 750 0019 or visit my website at www.frank-klees.on.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information click here