Coyote panic is becoming a seasonal phenomenon in Ottawa and the area. Sightings and media sensationalism all contribute to a growing terror of local canids.
Ottawa is not the only municipality to experience challenges in its relationship with coyotes and some suggest a violent, cruel and ineffective solution in the form of culls. The truth is that human–coyote encounters are largely a manmade problem spiraling from urban expansion, habitat destruction, and creating food sources through improperly secured garbage or compost bins, outdoor pet food dishes and an availability of prey including small wildlife and cats.
Human–coyote encounters are only going to increase as more habitat is destroyed and coyotes have to seek out resources in urban environments.
What can be done to co-exist with coyotes? Pet owners likely face some of the greatest challenges, but there are solutions to protect pets without harming wildlife. For cat owners, it is as simple as keeping your pet indoors. Coyotes are just one of the many dangers the outdoors poses to a cat. There are many ways to keep a cat happy and healthy indoors and cats can even enjoy the outdoors safely on a leash and harness with their owner or supervised in the backyard.
Dog owners can protect their pets by keeping their dogs on a secure leash when going for a walk. This will prevent a dog from bolting, getting lost, or seeking an encounter with a coyote. When taking a smaller dog for a walk through an area where there may be coyotes, picking up and carrying the dog can go a long ways towards keeping them safe.
While there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risks of encountering a coyote, the only way to prevent coyote encounters is to advocate for protecting their habitats and ensure they have somewhere to call home that is not in an urban community. Reach out to your city councilor and let them know that the best way to prevent encounters with coyotes is to protect their natural habitat.