Montrealers have to learn to live with coyotes, mayor says after weekend attacks
Since March, there have been 194 reported coyote sightings in the city
After two children were bitten by coyotes in the span of 24 hours, Montreal's mayor says the city is following the situation closely.
Valérie Plante said the key is to figure out how to deal with sick coyotes, which tend to be more problematic.
"Coyotes are here. We can't get rid of all of them. It would create other problems [because] they will come back," Plante said at a news conference on Monday.
"The idea is how can we manage problematic cases and inform the public."
Since March, there have been 194 reported coyote sightings in the city. Of those, 64 involved aggressive behaviour or attacks on pets and humans.
Two boys were bit in parks in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough over the weekend.
In a statement Sunday, the city said it is making an effort to keep coyotes away from residential areas around Parc des Hirondelles, Parc Saint-Lucie and Champdoré Park, all in Ahuntsic-Cartierville.
It has installed cameras, signs and bait in that borough as well as in Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc Extension.
The city launched a hotline, 438-872-COYO (2696), in April aimed at disseminating and collecting information about coyotes.
Plante said it's been proven that trying to relocate the animals won't work, because they find a way to return.
She also said they contribute to the ecosystem and help manage the population of other animals on the island.
Finding ways to live together
The belief is that a handful of coyotes that are either used to humans or sick are the ones causing the issues, said wildlife educator Jennifer Marchand.
Marchand is the spokesperson for GUEPE, an organization that does public education about coyotes as part of the city's management plan for urban wildlife.
She said coyotes will search a large territory — sometimes spanning four square kilometres — looking for food.
If they've been fed by humans before, people may no longer seem like a threat. And coyotes are creatures of habit, she said, so if they find food in an area they will likely return the next day.
That means the same coyotes may be spotted in different places, giving the impression that there are more roaming around than there actually are.
Marchand said the city's goal is finding ways for humans and the animals to live together, though coyotes that display atypical behaviour are euthanized.
Trappers from Quebec's Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks are helping the city respond to the situation, she said.
Tips for dealing with coyotes
But some residents don't believe the city has done enough to address the problem.
Carlo D'Anello, who lives in the Ahuntisc-Cartierville borough, started a petition to try and force the city to do more in order to curb the problem.
"We're talking among ourselves to see what we can do to force the city to eradicate the issue," he said.
He said lately, he has been seeing coyotes during the day, not just at night.
On its website, the city offers a few tips to avoid conflicts with coyotes:
- Do not approach or feed the coyotes, as they are easily tamed when in constant contact with humans.
- Keep your cats indoors at night, and keep dogs on a leash, especially in parks. Never let your dog chase a coyote.
- Keep garbage out of the reach of small rodents. Small rodents are prey for coyotes.
If you do run into one:
- Stay calm, back away slowly and maintain eye contact. Don't turn your back.
- Make sure the coyote has an escape route — don't corner it.
- If it gets aggressive, make yourself imposing by raising your arms. Make noise, yell or throw something in its general direction (not at it) to scare if off.
- Call 911 if the situation becomes an emergency.
With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio and Radio-Canada