A surge in coyote sightings and the recent attack of a small dog in Balmertown are reminders to keep a close eye on pets and examine our own habits that may be contributing to these incidents.
It was a terrifying moment for Sophie Raza when last week a coyote snatched her Yorkshire Terrier Otis no more than five feet in front of her.
“We were walking to Three Shaft, and he was walking in front of me without a leash. We were maybe five minutes into the walk on the path and then a coyote came running across from the right and grabbed him and kept running with him. I panicked and started screaming and chased the coyote,” says Raza, adding that the incident took place around 2:30 p.m.
Though the coyote’s grey, brown, and white coat blended into the surroundings, Otis’s red sweater allowed Raza to keep sight of them.
“I was running and yelling and the coyote finally dropped him. I found him in the snow just laying there,” she recounts. “He wasn’t really moving in my arms until we got to the car 10 minutes later.”
Otis suffered puncture wounds to the neck, but did not need immediate medical attention. She took him to the vet in Dryden first thing in the morning.
Though experts recommend keeping your cats indoors and dogs on leashes to avoid incidents like this, in a recent attack in Mississauga a small Yorkie was ripped right from its leash and taken by a coyote while out on an evening walk.
Drake Coutts says that during his nightly rounds as security guard for Goldcorp he spotted several packs of coyotes around Balmertown both on and off the mine site. Coutts says they showed no fear of him or his truck.
And Danielle Marion says she saw one in the Goldcorp development by Dupont Drive in Red Lake on Nov. 13.
“I yelled at it and it stood there looking like it was ready to pounce,” she expressed on The Northern Sun News Facebook page.
According to Lesley Sampson, founding executive director at Coyote Watch Canada, this type of behavior is a result of people feeding the animals, which increases their proximity tolerance to humans.
The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) underscores the importance of not providing a food source for coyotes and recommends using whistles or loud noises to frighten an approaching animal, making sure you clean up after your dog (coyotes are attracted to feces), and using motion-sensitive lights to make your property less appealing to coyotes and other wildlife.
The ministry also advises pet owners to spay or neuter dogs since coyotes are attracted to, and can mate with, domestic dogs.
The MNR Area Enforcement Manager for the Red Lake district could not be reached by the time of press to comment on the coyote population in Balmertown.