Montreal

Urban coyote sightings prompt Montreal to launch info hotline

Starting Wednesday, you can call 438-872-COYO (2696) for all things coyote-related, a necessary measure, the city says, now that sightings of the animals are becoming more frequent.

Starting Wednesday, you can call 438-872-COYO (2696) for all things coyote-related

If you spot one of these guys in your Montreal neighbourhood, who can you call? The city's coyote hotline, starting tomorrow. (City of Calgary)

The City of Montreal is launching a hotline so citizens can report sightings of coyotes.

Starting Wednesday, you can call 438-872-COYO (2696) for all things coyote-related, a necessary measure, the city says, now that the animals are being spotted more often.

According to the city, 379 coyote sightings were reported between June and March. Five people were bitten and 11 dogs were attacked during the same period. Officials don't know how many coyotes are roaming in Montreal.

The city only started tracking sightings last June, so there is nothing to compare those numbers to.

The phone line will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, and staffed by people who work for the Groupe uni des éducateurs-naturalistes et professionnels en environnement (GUEPE), a non-profit group that aims to educate the public about nature and the environment. 

Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough Mayor Émilie Thuillier, who is in charge of the file for the city administration, said it appears as though only a handful of coyotes are creating issues.

"We think we have the kind of problem here in Montreal that some coyotes are sick, or were fed by humans, or were provoked," she told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Over the next few weeks, GUEPE employees will also patrol parks in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Saint-Laurent and Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension boroughs and go door-to-door at homes near Frédéric-Back Park in Saint-Michel to spread awareness about the animals.

'Past due'

Marie-Pierre Milot-Bourque regularly walks her dogs near Frédéric-Back Park and says she has seen coyotes hiding under pine trees.

Her pets are leashed when they head out, but she said she often leaves the house with a stick, just in case a coyote attacks. She welcomes the city's new strategy. 

"It's past due. One, we have to think of the kids, there are plenty of kids here, and we think of our dogs too. At a certain point it's a drag because we're always scared that something will happen," she said. 
Marie-Pierre Milot-Bourque said she once say a coyote attack an off-leash dog at her local park. (Lauren McCallum/CBC)

Coyotes in Montreal are nothing new — they're known to cross Rivière des Prairies from Laval along the train tracks and follow the rails into different parks at night, looking for food — but several residents who saw them over the summer found that the animals were a little too comfortable around humans.

In general, coyotes are solitary animals. A coyote will usually run away when someone approaches. The trouble stems from human contact — if they've been fed by humans before, people may no longer seem like a threat. 

Thuillier said coyotes deemed to be problematic will be trapped and euthanized.

The city tried the trap and relocate method last year, but Thuillier said it "doesn't work."

A few tips

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 Lauren McCallum and CBC Montreal's Daybreak

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now