A coyote in an east-end Toronto ravine has snatched and killed a pet dog from an adjacent backyard.
Chris Peters, whose house backs onto the ravine that nestles onto Neville Park Boulevard, located off Queen Street East just east of Victoria Park Avenue, witnessed the incident that occurred Wednesday, Feb. 20 at about 11 p.m.
The dog – a white Maltese – had just been let out when he was grabbed by a coyote. The pet owner gave chase and was able to recover his pet, named Cujo. Cujo had to be later euthanized by a veterinarian.
The incident occurred almost four years after a similar incident in which another dog – a chihuahua – was snatched from a yard backing onto the ravine. At the time there were also reports of missing cats.
In that case, the city tried unsuccessfully to remove three coyotes, at first trying to scare them off and then trying to trap them. They were going to trap and euthanize them but that generated enough controversy the city received special permission from the province to trap and release them to a different area.
The city never did catch them, however, and as winter gave way to spring and summer, the issue died down with no further incidents reported.
Last year, on April 4, police fatally shot what they say was an aggressive coyote in a wooded area near Cherry Beach where they were undertaking an unrelated investigation.
Controversy ensued earlier this month on Feb. 11, when a coyote was shot dead by Toronto police officers in Cabbagetown as it trotted through a residential neighbourhood north of Parliament and Carlton streets.
Although there has been no reported incidents of coyotes attacking humans in Toronto, in January police shot dead a coyote in Oakville who had jumped a backyard fence and bit an eight-year-old. While it left just small bite marks through her snowsuit, she did require rabies shots.
The City of Toronto, through its animal services department, has advice on dealing with wildlife in an urban setting, coyotes in particular. Basically, advice on their website says to never feed coyotes or even inadvertently leave out food. If you’re in an area frequented by coyotes, keep your pet on a leash while outside and never leave young children unattended. Children should also be taught “about animal safety and what to do if they should encounter various types of wildlife.”
Animal services advises on its website not to report a coyote if it is spotted acting normally in its normal habitat in a ravine or large park, but only to call police if it is acting abnormally or is in an abnormal place, such as a residential neighbourhood far from parkland.
The likelihood of seeing a coyote in winter or early spring is greater, said Nathalie Karvonen, executive director of Toronto Wildlife Centre, in an interview for an extensive series on wildlife in the city The Mirror published just prior to the latest incident.
She said the centre receives a lot of calls about coyotes and foxes in the winter, “which is often attributable to the fact there’s not as much cover for them as the leaves are off the trees and there’s not as much ground cover with bushes and plants,” Karvonen said.
“They could be the exact same coyotes that were there in the summer; it’s just in the summer there are a lot more places for them to hide.”
Karvonen said coyotes require wildlife corridors, which are generally found in neighbourhoods near ravines, railroad tracks or hydro right-of-ways.
To read our complete feature on wildlife in the city, visit www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/1935755-coyotes-and-other-wildlife-can-be-found-in-downtown-east-end-green-space/
To read the city’s tips “on how you can protect your property and live in harmony with the city’s wildlife”, including coyotes, visit www.toronto.ca/animal_services/wild.htm
- with files from Torstar