With warmer weather approaching, coyote sightings may increase

Sara Hanafi

With winter drawing to a close and spring just around the corner, encounters with coyotes may become more frequent. However, residents of the Kitchener-Wa- terloo area shouldn’t be too concerned.

Keith Pothier, the president of Urban Wildlife Control Inc., said that coyotes are common in the area but rarely pose any threat.

“We might get one call a month reporting a sighting,” he said. “Based on that, we don’t have a real problem in the area.”

A coyote’s habitat mainly consists of green spaces and urban natural areas, preferably close to water which makes Kitchener- Waterloo an excellent spot to live and raise their young, according to the Urban Forestry website.

According to Statistics Canada, the chances of having a negative encounter with a coyote are very low. In more than 10 years, only two people have been scratched or bitten. In comparison, 200 people are struck by lightning in Canada per year.

“Coyotes are generally not dangerous,” Pothier said. “But like any wild animal, they are unpredictable and should never be fed or approached.”

It is possible to coexist with coyotes as long as there is a respect for their space. Coyotes will occasionally wander into the city in search of food, but are wary of humans and avoid people whenever possible. Sightings are more common near ravines, woodlots and vacant fields, Pothier said.

Kitchener resident Robin Schulz lives on a property that backs onto the Grand River. “There are nights when you can hear them hunting,” she said. “They don’t usually come up to the level the houses are on. They stay down by the river.”

Schulz said she has never actually seen a coyote. “I don’t think they’re dangerous as long as they’re left alone. I think of it as they’re more afraid of us than we are of them,” she said. “Just like any other wild animal, they will defend their territory if they feel threatened. I don’t think they would go out of their way to hurt a human.”

“The main thing is to ensure no food is available to them,” Pothier said, adding that small dogs and cats should not be left alone near coyote habitats.

If you are approached by a coyote, stay calm and do not run, but instead back away slowly, allowing as much space be- tween the animal and you as possible.

To report a coyote sighting, you can call the Urban Wildlife Control Inc. toll free at 877-UWC-WILD (877-892-9453).