BRAUN: Illegal wildlife feeding puts a coyote’s life at risk

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Providing an easy meal erodes wild animals’ natural fear of humans

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Residents of a Scarborough neighborhood fear a coyote among them.

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As local media reported last week, a small dog was bitten in the St. Clair Ave area. E. and Warden Ave. Many have spotted the animal and feel threatened by the coyote’s daring with people.

But there is another side to this story.

While it is easy to empathize with the residents, it is the people who have created the problem with feral dogs.

Coyotes live all over North America and Central America. They are smaller than wolves (the average male weighs between 9 and 20 kilos) and look like dogs.

Here in the GTA, coyotes eat rabbits, squirrels, rodents, and other small mammals. Animals will prey on a cat or small dog because they cannot differentiate between wild and domestic foods.

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But biologist Nathalie Karvonen, director of the Toronto Wildlife Center, says coyotes “are afraid of people and prefer to be left alone.”

In a recent press release from TWC, she spoke about the Scarborough Coyote and the importance of not feeding wildlife.

For years, Karvonen and other animal welfare groups have pleaded with the public to stop feeding wildlife in the GTA.

Feeding the animals erodes their natural fear of humans and creates exactly the sort of situation that unfolded in Scarborough. The area is bordered by ravines and the huge green space of the Pine Hills Cemetery. Wildlife abounds.

Sadly, Karvonen says cemetery staff and TWC volunteers saw several people feeding the tagged male coyote in question (as part of a study conducted by the Ministry of Natural Resources).

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And there are indirect sources of food, Karvonen said, including “food from overflowing garbage, food left for a colony of feral cats, food left in the cemetery on graves and some residents who leave behind. food for coyotes who think it will prevent them from eating their outdoor cats.

An easy meal – this is what encourages coyotes and other wildlife to approach humans.

  1. Macy, Yorkie, six, reunites with Dorothy Kwan and her daughter Lily, 10, after being released from a veterinary clinic in Scarborough on Friday July 23, 2021. The little dog was attacked by a coyote on Tuesday near their home in at Warden Avenue and St. Clair Avenue East.

    BRAUN: Scarborough coyotes are emboldened because people feed them

  2. Dorothy Kwan and her daughter Lily, 10, on Thursday, July 22, 2021. The family dog, a Yorkie named Macy, defended Lily against a coyote on a walk near their Scarborough home on Tuesday.

    A small dog fights a coyote in Scarborough

  3. Ruihua

    Woman is latest victim of coyote attack in Scarborough neighborhood

So the Scarborough coyote problem was created by people, and now people are calling for the animal to be removed or slaughtered.

Instead, the TWC, the City of Toronto, Coyote Watch Canada, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will work together and attempt to recycle the coyote to resume normal wild behavior. It’s a big business.

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But the behavior of the animal can only be changed if the feeding stops.

People need to secure their garbage and stop feeding feral cats, chipmunks, raccoons and anything that catches their anthropomorphic attention.

Your daily bag of bread crusts for the pigeons also feeds the rats; throwing this bread into ponds for ducks and geese destroys their migratory instincts and kills them.

Feeders and photographers who continue to leave food for wildlife are also breaking a rule.

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Karvonen believes they should be fined and prosecuted “for the problems they have caused in this community for people, pets and coyotes.”

Karvonen doesn’t diminish the experience of those who have encountered the coyote – she knows people are afraid. But she wants to set the record straight: it’s not Cujo.

Coyotes are not vicious animals, they don’t have rabies, and they almost never attack humans (although these rare attacks are associated with food).

Dog attacks on humans are much more common.

Please stop feeding the wildlife.

“We will be happier if we learn to live with and appreciate the wild animals that live among us,” Karvonen said. “They were there long before us. “

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