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Officials seek to control Montreal's expanding coyote population
There are growing efforts to contain Montreal's expanding coyote population due to an increase in both sightings and contact with humans.
Six people have reported being bitten on the leg or scratched by coyotes in Montreal this year. At least three dogs have also been attacked.
Though coyotes have always been part of Montreal's urban wildlife, they are becoming increasingly bold in their contact with humans, causing problems.
Coyotes are usually nocturnal animals, but are being spotted in broad daylight on busy urban streets such as Papineau Ave., Saint-Michel Blvd. and Notre-Dame St.
In response, the city has hired two people to actively trap coyotes, mainly in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, in an effort to control the population.
There are several reasons coyotes are bolder this year.
• They have no natural predators on the island of Montreal.
• There is less trapping by humans as it becomes less popular and less socially acceptable.
That leaves the coyote population to expand, meaning more chances of coming into contact with humans. The biggest mistake, according to wildlife protection officer Duncan Bradley, is feeding coyotes or leaving pet food outdoors.
“They’ll also be using dog food or cat food that is left outside; garbage around people’s houses as sources of food. They’re omnivorous – they’ll eat just about anything,” said Bradley, adding that it has likely contributed to the behaviours we're seeing now.
“That means they’ll come into slight contact with humans more often, and as they come into slight contact with humans, then any close contact becomes less and less stressful to them.”
Anyone who comes across an aggressive coyote is urged to call police immediately. If a person feels threatened, they should try to make themselves as tall and large as possible, shake their hands and make lots of noise.
If the situation is not immediately threatening, call the SOS Braconnage line at 1 800 463-2191. Wildlife protection officers will attempt to trap and relocate the animal.
So far, 16 coyotes have been trapped this year. Ten were relocated, and the rest were euthanized. Animals are usually euthanized when they are ill or exhibit dangerous behaviour.
The SPCA blames the situation on the destruction of the animal’s natural habitats. The animal advocacy group is warning people not to touch or try to tame the animals.