Coyotes are a natural part of the environment and ecosystem. As the Greater Toronto Area continues to expand, it is inevitable that coyote sightings will rise in King and across York Region.
Here you will find helpful tips about the nature and behaviour of coyotes, what to do if you see one and how to deal with nuisance coyotes, and when to escalate your concerns to responsible agencies. The Township works closely with our partners at the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Toronto Wildlife Centre (TWC) to provide information and resources for residents about coyotes.
Important Facts about Coyotes
- Coyotes are family oriented animals. They may settle in an area to establish a den and have pups, typically between two to ten in a litter.
- Coyotes eat a variety of rodents and smaller animals such as mice, rats, rabbits, and groundhogs. They will also eat birds, eggs, snakes, turtles, fish, fruit, plants and roadkill. Urban and residential areas provide a sufficient source of food to coyotes.
- Coyotes are generally not dangerous, and attacks on humans are extremely rare. However, coyote attacks on pets such as dogs and cats are more common, as such animals may be considered a source of food or territorial threat.
- Removing coyotes from an area is very challenging. Coyotes are intelligent and difficult to trap, and provincial legislation requires that trapped animals are released within one kilometre of where they were captured. This is because relocating trapped animals to other areas may spread disease, separate children from their parents, and create imbalances in the local ecosystem. Furthermore, culling coyotes has been shown to increase breeding rates in subsequent years, resulting in higher populations and further urban infiltration.
Keeping Coyotes Away
Here are some tips to avoid negative interactions with coyotes and reduce sightings on your property:
- Never feed coyotes. Providing food to coyotes will reduce their fear of humans and encourage them to settle in the area.
- Remove or secure potential food sources left outdoors such as pet bowls, bird seed, garbage bags, and compost. Small animals are a significant part of the coyote's diet - food sources that attract squirrels, mice, rats and birds will naturally attract coyotes as well.
- Always monitor pets and small children when they are outdoors. Keep your pets leashed when going for walks, and don't allow your pet to engage with coyotes under any circumstances. Keep your yard clear of dog feces, as coyotes are attracted to it.
You may also consider various property improvements to help reduce the presence of coyotes:
- Install higher fencing and buried mesh wiring to prevent jumping over or climbing under fences (be sure to consult the Township's Fence By-law before installing any new fencing).
- Install motion sensor lights to scare coyotes at night.
- Limit shelter for animals preyed upon by coyotes (rabbits, squirrels, mice, rats, etc.) by maintaining a well-manicured lawn, removing unnecessary brush or thick vegetation, and sealing off crawl spaces.
If You See a Coyote...
Never approach or confront a coyote. Don't turn your back on a coyote or run away from them, and do not let your dog chase a coyote. Use the hazing techniques described below to scare the animal and discourage it from returning to the area:
- Make loud noises, use a whistle or bang pots, or shout at the coyote to go away, but do not scream
- Make yourself appear large, wave or clap your hands, stomp your feet, and be assertive
- Throw objects near the coyote, but not directly at it
- Shine lights at the coyote
While extremely rare, coyotes may act aggressively towards people, particularly when they have become habituated to and have lost their fear of humans. Only contact 9-1-1 if you believe that a coyote presents an imminent threat to the safety and well-being of a person.
If your area is subject to nuisance issues with a particular coyote or you have witnessed a coyote in distress, contact the Ministry of Natural Resources, Toronto Wildlife Centre and/or Coyote Watch Canada to help address the problem. In most cases, deterrence is preferable to forced relocation or culling.
If you are contemplating hiring a licensed hunter or trapper to remove a nuisance coyote, please consider the safety of your neighbours and consult the Township's Discharge of Firearms By-law for no-discharge areas within the Township of King.
Consult the Ministry of Natural Resources to assist with hiring a wildlife agent.
Additional Resources & Information
Additional information is available below: