Development and Infrastructure Committee Meeting
|Date:||September 14, 2015|
|Location:||Council Chambers, Level 2, City Hall|
City staff are recommending that council amend the city’s Animal Control bylaw to prohibit feeding of wildlife in public parks, except in a designated area, as one way to control the coyote population. An example of a designated area for a specific purpose or use could be the Trumpeter Swans overwintering grounds in Lasalle Park.
Staff considered an amendment to the Property Standards by-law and determined it would not be feasible as this by-law addresses animal feed storage rather than the feeding of animals.
Research indicates that coyotes are attracted by wildlife feeding and typically hunt and eat smaller wild animals. At a recent town hall, staff from Coyote Watch Canada advised that the number one driver for the presence of coyotes and increased human confrontations is the availability of food. This includes overflowing garbage bins, picnic remnants and scattered birdseed.
Coyote Watch Canada has been working with staff to investigate why coyotes are more prevalent in some areas and sometimes have bold interactions with their human neighbours. They have also assisted the city in developing management strategies. Steps taken to date include: enforcing Lot Maintenance and Property Standards By-Laws to reduce the presence of potential food sources or den locations on private property; warning signs in areas, such as parks, that have seen an increase in coyote sightings; online reporting of coyotes through See Click Fix (more than 500 sightings and 98 phone calls logged); removal of a sick or injured coyote to a rehabilitation centre; vigilant cleaning of waste containers at city parks; advising residents to put out garbage and compost containers only on the morning of garbage day, not the night before, and to ensure they are tightly closed to prevent scavenging.
Residents have asked if coyotes can be trapped, relocated or even culled. Under the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, it is illegal to trap and relocate any wild animal beyond the immediate area in which it was captured. The MNRF also states that culling coyotes is not an effective means of reducing a coyote population, as other coyotes typically will take their place. Research suggests that when aggressively controlled (e.g. through culling), coyotes can increase their reproductive rate by breeding at a younger age and having larger litters with a higher survival rate among the young. This allows coyote populations to quickly bounce back even when as much as 70 percent of the coyote population is removed.
Residents are advised to call 911 if they feel threatened.
The following guiding principles are incorporated into staff’s recommended coyote management approach:
- Human safety is the priority in managing human-coyote interactions.
Coyotes serve an important role in ecosystems by helping to control the populations of other species, such as rodents and other urban mammals.
Preventive practices can minimize potential interactions with coyotes, such as removal of available food, habitat modification and responding appropriately when interacting with wildlife.
Solutions for coyote conflicts must address both problematic coyote behaviors (such as aggression towards people and attacks on pets) and problematic human behaviors (such as intentionally or unintentionally feeding coyotes and letting pets outside unattended).
Culling programs are ineffective for reducing coyote population sizes or preventing human-coyote conflicts.
Community-wide programs that involve residents are key to successful coyote management programs.
Staff are developing a series of videos on coyotes in urban areas, the first on how to wildlife proof your home and property.
Based on what we have learned about coyotes through staff’s research and public consultation – including what works and doesn’t to control their population – it appears the ban on wildlife feeding in public parks will assist in keeping the population low. I’m pleased that there can be exceptions, for example the Trumpeter Swan feeding at LaSalle Park.