Montreal to trap aggressive coyotes, educate public about wild animals
Having determined that relocating coyotes doesn't work, the city of Montreal has hired a trapper to hunt and kill aggressive coyotes on the island, and is launching a plan to teach citizens how to deal with the wild animals.
In the past 10 months there have been nearly 380 calls about coyotes in urban and suburban areas, and at least five people were bitten or scratched by coyotes. Coyotes also bit 11 dogs between June 2017 and March 2018. (Data before June was not collected.)
The sightings are unusual because coyotes are small, solitary animals who seek out small prey – not humans – unless we draw them in.
While coyotes have been living on the island for years, officials say encounters between people and the animals got worse because residents started feeding them. Wildlife officials say that's a terrible idea because it trains coyotes to expect people to give them food, and leads the animals to become aggressive when they are not fed.
David Rodrigue, general manager of the Ecomuseum, said most problems arise when people start treating coyotes like domesticated dogs.
"People like to feed animals, they think they're helping them, they think it's cute: it's not. And what it does is, those animals become habituated to people, and then they come closer and closer, and what happens at some point is they want food, they don't get it, they get mad just like a child, and they nip," said Rodrigue.
Coyote sightings have increased significantly in the city’s northern and western areas.
“There are ample resources, garbage, and a lot of small mammals. They do very well, so they've been reproducing a lot and they've been quite visible,” said Rodrigue.
Coyotes no longer have any natural predators in Montreal, since wolves and bears have not been anywhere near the island in decades.
Montreal has hired a company to trap and euthanize the coyotes that are causing problems, but coyotes that are not bothering anyone will be left alone.
“It’s quite easy at this moment to see which coyote is causing problems. We know him, so we are following him and we're placing some traps,” said Ahuntsic-Cartierville Borough Mayor Emilie Thuillier.
In order to teach people how to safely interact with wild animals the city is launching a campaign to teach people not to feed coyotes. The campaign will include courses in daycares, a door-to-door campaign in areas where most coyotes are reported, and patrols in certain parks.
Rodrigue said the best thing to do is leave the animals alone – don’t feed them or interact.
“Don't try to take selfies with the coyote. Just enjoy the fact that it's there, that it's an animal and you have the opportunity to see it,” he said.
Montreal is also launching a coyote information line (438-872-COYO ) on Wednesday that people can call for more information. That telephone line will be staffed between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., seven days a week.
People can also contact the provincial government's anti-poaching hotline to report coyote encounters. That number is 1-800-463-2191.
Last year the city of Montreal hired two people to trap coyotes and at least six of the canines were euthanized while at least ten others were relocated although the Ministry of Wildlife, Forests, and Parks does not recommend moving trapped coyotes.