“Do you love wolves? Or maybe cherish a family pet dog? Do you think that foxes are adorable? Coyotes are also worthy of our admiration and reverence; to be cherished and adored. They are sentient and essential beings. All come from the same family Canidae, including jackals. Yes, they are all related! Coyotes are beautiful, intelligent and unique as individuals, just like their cousins; both domestic and wild. Wild canids provide such a vital ecological role in healthy habitats and ecosystems. They are called ‘keystone species’.”
– Lesley Sampson, Coyote Watch Canada
I think anyone who has read my articles has figured out that I respect all animals, whether they be the most majestic red fox, the cleverest racoon, or the smelliest skunk. Each has taught me so much about the diet, vocals, family instincts, and other behaviours exclusive to their own species that it became impossible to not appreciate each animal for its own unique qualities.
Over the years I have had some incredible experiences and last month was another for the memory vault. I had gone to a local park along Lake Ontario with my blanket, book and camera. I laid down and started to read my book Flyaway, by Susie Gilbert, which is about the adventures of wild bird rehabbers. (Yes, while my nature experiences may seem glamorous to some of you, I too dream of grander adventures.) While immersed in my book a movement in the distance caught my eye; a coyote was walking the tree line.
I put down my book and slowly reached for my camera. The eastern coyote was a female; a beautiful animal with her bushy tail, white markings on the front of her legs and a mixture of grey, red and white fur. She was walking near the trees, smelling the ground, and relaxing and enjoying the weather just as I was. The coyote did a bit of stretching (mimicking yoga’s downward dog), rolling on her back, smelling the air and then spreading herself out in the heat of the sun.
When I arrived at the park I had seen public signs about coyotes in the area, and while I do not fear any of the wildlife in the GTA, I respect them and make sure I always keep my distance. I was a little concerned that many people nearby were walking their dogs off leash. On my way out I walked in the general direction of the coyote, curious to see if she had already grown accustomed to our presence. It didn’t take more than a few steps before her ears perked up, she jumped to her feet, and dashed into the bushes. Luckily, this coyote was still fearful of people, and as long as her instinct to run remains, she’ll do fine living in the forests of the GTA.
I am fortunate to be a part of Coyote Watch Canada and they have many suggestions on coexisting with the eastern coyote. Here are some of their recommendations. More can be found at http://coyotewatchcanada.com/awareness/coexisting-with-coyotes/. You can also report coyote sightings with the City of Toronto here: http://cityoftoronto.fluidsurveys.com/s/torontocoyotes/.
- Keep pet food, water bowls, and garbage/green bins indoors and never intentionally feed coyotes.
- Supervise and leash your dog, especially small ones, while on walks.
- Coyotes are most active between the hours of dusk and dawn.
- Keep pets, especially cats and small dogs, indoors at night or enclosed in kennels.
- Teach your children about wildlife and how to safely respond to a coyotes, dogs, and other animals.
- Remember to leash up.
Ann Brokelman is an avid birder and nature photographer. Connect with her at www.naturephotosbyann.blogspot.ca.