(ABOVE: Coyote spotted in the Fairwinds neighbourhood, near Khamsim Street, mid-February.)
A City of Ottawa biologist says that coyotes in Stittsville pose a low safety risk to residents.
Dr. Nick Stow met with residents on Hesse Crescent in Wyldewood and councillor Shad Qadri on Friday morning to address concerns from residents about frequent coyote sightings in their neighbourhood and around Stittsville.
Councillor Qadri summarized the information that was shared by Dr. Stow at the meeting:
- Coyotes or “coy-wolves” in our community of Stittsville are considered a very low risk to the safety of residents
- The animals have likely been in the vicinity of Stittsville for many years and have not created a threat or risk to public safety
- The presence of coyotes is important to maintain a healthy eco-system and keep the rodent population low and at a healthy rate
- Coyotes that have been sighted near residents’ homes are most likely scavenging for food. Since Stittsville is considered a rural/suburban community there are many areas that are natural and provide coyotes with a water source and an abundance of small mice, chipmunks, and rabbits
- Residents should continue to enjoy running, walking, cycling, and allowing their children to play along the walking paths, the Trans-Canada Trail, and natural areas in the community – the coyotes pose a very low risk to resident safety, both adults and children alike
- Residents are encouraged, however, to keep dogs on a leash while walking them in these areas – this is a safety precaution all residents should take when walking their dogs in any natural area
- January through to March is mating season for the animals, so this may be why there are more accounts/sightings of them at this time than any other time during the year
- Come post mating-season (April/May) the coyotes will disperse from the area
- If residents would like to mitigate the chances of coyotes coming near their homes, they are encouraged to limit any kind of feeding they may provide in their backyard (i.e. picking up fallen fruit from any fruit trees in the yard, keeping garbage organized and properly sealed, etc.)
- Urban coyotes have a living space of up to 5 square kilometres, meaning that their place of origin or “den” could be quite distant from Hesse Crescent
- Having the animals removed from the area is only possible by means of lethal trapping or hunting and would probably result in another pack of coyotes re-occupying the area within the year
- The City has no jurisdiction in the removal of wildlife and the Province strongly advocates against it given that these animals are a considerably low risk to public safety and help to maintain a strong healthy eco-system