Spike in coyote sightings nothing unusual, says wildlife specialist
A wildlife specialist says an increase in coyote sightings in central Newfoundland is no cause for alarm, but residents can take steps to prepare for a possible encounter.
Some residents have been expressing worries about the safety of their kids and pets because of sightings reported in recent weeks.
However Chris Baldwin, manager of conservation services with the wildlife division in the Department of Environment and Conservation, says the sightings aren't a sign of anything unusual.
"Like most animal species, there's a period where younger animals typically disperse from the family group," he told CBC's Central Newfoundland Morning Show.
"That's likely what's happening this time of year, for coyotes in particular."
Baldwin says coyotes are generally fearful of humans, but can become more docile if they are in an area where they're not being hunted or there is food available.
How to stay clear of a coyote
If people want to avoid confrontations with the animals, Baldwin said there are steps they can take.
"It's important to not do anything that's going to attract the animals," he said.
"If it's routinely hanging out around a residential area or whatever, there's something that's keeping the animals there - food, garbage, pets and that sort of thing."
He also says running from a coyote is a bad idea, as a predatory instinct may kick in and the animal might start to chase.
The best strategy is to make lots of noise and let the coyote know you are human — and not fearful prey.
As well, he said that leaving pets outside, especially ones that haven't been spayed or neutered, can attract curious coyotes.
If after doing all of those things there are still coyotes hanging around, Baldwin said people should contact the authorities.
"People can contact the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency, previously the Department of Natural Resources, to handle nuisance animal complaints," he said.
The Department of Environment and Conservation estimates that there are between 6,000 and 10,000 coyotes in Newfoundland and Labrador, and that the population is fairly stable.