Learn key facts about coyotes, rabies and the City's Coyote Strategy.
Coyotes have become a natural part of the urban landscape in Toronto and are an important part of the ecosystem as they control rodent and rabbit populations. They thrive in urban areas because of the abundance of food and shelter available to them. However, residents should always exercise caution around coyotes.
What should I do if I see a coyote near my home or on my property?
If a coyote is near your house, encourage the coyote to keep moving by shouting and gesturing aggressively at it.
The coyote is likely on your property due to a nearby food source, either in your yard or in your neighbour's. Remember: never feed coyotes. Feeding wild animals, including coyotes, whether intentionally or unintentionally, can create problems for the neighbourhood.
Here are some ways you can stop the coyote from finding a meal in your yard:
- Avoid feeding your pets outdoors. Any food source will attract a coyote.
- Ensure that all household garbage is inaccessible.
- Place garbage at the curb on the morning of the scheduled pickup, rather than the night before.
If you see anyone intentionally feeding a coyote, call 311. It is against city bylaws to feed a coyote. Also, remember to remove dense brush and weeds to minimize hiding spots for coyotes.
How can I keep my pets safe?
Always supervise pets – keep dogs on a leash and cats indoors or supervised when outside. If coyotes are in your area, never let your pet out into your backyard alone, during the evening or at dusk or dawn.
When walking your dog in a park:
Allow your dog off-leash only in enclosed areas. If you encounter a coyote while walking your dog, gather your dog in your arms. If this is not possible, keep it on a short leash as you move toward an area with increased activity.
Other precautionary measures include:
- Walk your dog in areas of high pedestrian traffic such as busy streets, jogging and park trails.
- Walk during daylight hours, along transit routes and around parks during events
- Walk your dog with friends and family.
- Avoid walking along abandoned properties or densely vegetated areas.
- Make sure your dog is ahead of you and within sight at all times while walking.
- The following items may help in deterring coyotes in parks:
- Whistles: the whistle may not scare the coyote directly but it will alert other pedestrians in the area of your need for help
- Flashlights: bright light has been known to deter coyotes
- Umbrellas: the action of opening/closing will deter a coyote
What should I do if I see a coyote or a coyote approaches?
Remember: Coyotes are naturally timid animals and will flee when confronted with aggression.
- Be Big: stand up and raise your arms in the air. Appear as large and threatening as possible
- Be Loud: stomp your feet, clap your hands, and yell "Go Away Coyote" to alert people nearby
- Be Threatening: throw a tennis ball or a small pebble or stick at the coyote, but only to show the coyote who is boss - not to injure!
Most importantly: NEVER RUN AWAY FROM A COTE. Like dogs, coyotes may give chase if you run. If you see a coyote, continue to exaggerate the techniques listed above. Avoid turning your back, maintain eye contactand slowly back away toward an area of increased activity.These actions teach coyotes to be afraid of humans and will help to minimize conflicts.
If you see a coyote doing the following, call 311:
- approaching dogs or people
- exploring a home or building far from a large park or open area
- limping or staggering or with paralyzed hind legs
- acting confused around non-living objects
- biting pets
You should also call 311 if you find an abandoned pup or an injured or sick coyote. When injured, wild animals are frightened and in pain. Always remember: do not handle coyotes!
Coyotes are active during the day and at night. They do not hibernate and may be seen more often during winter months as they are not hidden by foliage and because fewer people are outside. If your house or apartment is near a ravine or large green space, you may see a coyote. Coyotes mate in January and February and are more active and visible during this time.
Just after dawn or before dusk coyotes may be seen hunting in an open area or running along highways or near ravines. Coyotes can live close to humans and rarely be seen. Some people may be concerned about the safety of their children and pets and may be afraid that the coyote is sick or has rabies. If you are concerned about the safety of your pets, feed and keep them indoors.
Coyotes are intelligent, adaptable and curious creatures. As a rule, they are also shy, cautious and non-confrontational. They are drawn to places where they can find "easy pickings". Coyotes are omnivores and will eat whatever is available such as small mammals and birds, and improperly stored garbage. Overflowing garbage bins, or garbage not kept in secured bins can often attract mice and rats, which in turn attracts coyotes into residential areas.
Also see how to wildlife-proof your home.
The City has a coyote response strategy that it follows when dealing with coyotes that includes public education, a bylaw that prohibits feeding of wildlife, and criteria for the removal of coyotes, if necessary. A bite on another animal is not grounds for removal, as this is normal coyote behaviour.
Where a coyote is injured or sick, Toronto Animal Services will investigate to determine whether the coyote can recover on its own or be captured and brought to a wildlife rehabilitation facility. In accordance with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, the coyote will be located back into the area from which it was captured when it has recovered.
Have questions about coyotes? Join us for a resident information session on April 10, 6 to 8 pm, at the Council Chambers in the East York Civic Centre (850 Coxwell Avenue).