Species Spotlight: Coyotes in Urban Areas

Reposted from the TRCA’s Shorelines newsletter.

The coyote (Canis latrans) are not a new species in Ontario, having migrated here over a century ago; however, their sightings in urban areas have been on the rise over the past few years. As urban sprawl has increased and humans have impeded on natural habitats, coyotes have learned to adapt very well to life in the city.

Coyote facts:

  • In cities their preferred habitat is natural green spaces such as parks, ravines and river and stream banks
  • Coyotes are omnivores and will often eat what is available to them, including garbage if improperly stored
  • Coyotes vary in colour, including blonde coloured fur, brown and red
  • Adult female coyotes weigh between 13 to 16 kg, while males average between 16 to 18 kg
  • Coyotes often mate for life, and the average litter size is five or six pups
  • Rabies is very rare in coyotes, and coyotes may actually help reduce the number of rabies cases in Ontario, since they prey on foxes, a species more likely to carry the disease
  • Coyotes are often wary of people and will try to avoid people whenever possible.

Co-existing with coyotes:

  • Always secure garbage and compost in sealed containers with locking lids and store in an enclosed structure
  • Put garbage out the morning of its scheduled pickup
  • Never feed or try to tame a coyote
  • Do not let pets chase a coyote or roam at large. Always keep dogs on a leash.

What to do if you come across a coyote:

  • Keep your distance. Coyotes will most likely avoid you if you do not bother it
  • Back away, maintain eye contact while remaining calm
  • Never turn your back or run from a coyote
  • Raise your arms above your head and make loud noises to scare it off

Ontario is home to over 30,000 plant & animal species. Coyotes are just one of those species that contribute to Ontario’s healthy ecosystem. The key to humans and coyotes co-existing lies in us understanding the species and learning to share the natural world with them.