Mike Evans' baby daughter was having trouble sleeping, so he hit the streets Sunday night hoping a car ride might lull her into 'la la land.'
But as he made his way through the city, the photographer noticed pairs of eyes glinting in his headlights and what looked like large shadows flitting across the road.
As he came up on the Tim Hortons near the corner of Sandwich Street and Chappell Avenue, Evans finally figured out what was watching him from the dark — a pair of coyotes playing in the snow.
"I have been keeping an eye on that location for the past couple of years because those coyotes live right around there and I have seen them a few times," he explained. "Last Sunday was the first time I ever managed to get video of them though and it was cool, because they didn't run away, the one seemed to come back and check me out allowing me to get a decent shot."
He posted his video to Facebook where it was viewed more than 36,000 times and garnered more than 100 comments, with many sharing their own coyote sighting stories.
Coyotes have actually been Windsor residents for decades, according to the city's naturalist, Karen Cedar.
"We used to get reports of them from Windsor police who would tell us all about their coyote encounters in the middle of the night," she said. "With all of our alleyways through all of Windsor, they just frequent those and even though they're a fairly large animal they're excellent at hiding from people and getting away from being noticed."
Be big, mean and ugly
As the city has grown, the canines have become accustomed to urban living, she added.
"They have figured out that often there are bowls of food put out, not for them, but for stray cats or dogs, and that's obviously a quick easy meal," Cedar explained, adding all of the mice and rabbits in town are also an attractant — not to mention dogs in heat.
"There's just a draw, to come in and sniff out all of the things we have going on in our downtown core," she said.
What can homeowners do to avoid having a coyote come for a visit?
- Do not leave food outside, especially overnight when coyotes are more active
- Pick up dog waste, it's a big attractant for coyotes
- The scent of unfixed dogs is another major attractant, so have pets spayed or neutered
- If you have a small dog or cat don't let them out after dark
If you do run into a coyote in a dark alley, Cedar says to follow your instincts.
"You're going to be really loud, and you're going to make yourself mean and scary, just like you would if you had a strange dog approaching you," she said. "They still see you as a predator, so the meaner and uglier and louder you are the more you're going to reinforce yes, I am something to be afraid of."