Nova Scotia

N.S. coyote pelt bounty to end

Nova Scotia's bounty on coyote pelts will end when this year's trapping season ends next week, the Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday.
A family living in south-end Halifax recently spotted this coyote in their backyard. (Submitted by Matthew MacLellan)

Nova Scotia's bounty on coyote pelts will end when this year's trapping season ends next week, the Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday.

After the trapping season ends on March 31, officials say the data will have to be analyzed before they can say whether the incentive — $20 per coyote pelt — was successful in reducing coyote numbers.

Mike Boudreau, a wildlife biologist hired to monitor human-wildlife conflict, said figures could be available by mid-April.

"The numbers aren't in. It's too early. But anecdotally, in the first part of January, we saw a 50 per cent increase [in pelts shipped to market] in the same time period as last year," said Boudreau.

"Initially it seems like there's a little increase."

There have been numerous reports of aggressive coyotes since October 2009, when a Toronto hiker was killed in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. An increase in coyote sightings in urban areas has also lead some residents to raise safety concerns.

Matthew MacLellan, who recently saw a coyote in his backyard in south-end Halifax, said he's cautious when he's outside with his 16-month-old daughter.

"She's a toddler so she's never out by herself. But even when we're with her we're keeping very close and we're not being outdoors as much," MacLellan told CBC News on Thursday.

MacLellan's wife recently captured a video of a coyote from inside their family room. The family's lawn is on the Northwest Arm, in a residential area close to Point Pleasant Park.

Max Gross, who also lives in the area, said people in the neighbourhood have been talking about the coyote sightings.

"I saw him on the backyard because he was going up and down the waterfront," said Gross. "We see him about once every three days or so."

Residents want coyote removed

While MacLellan said he would like the coyote removed from the area, Boudreau said that's unlikely because the animal has not shown signs of aggression so far.

Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker said the government had met its commitment to ensuring safety with a four-step plan outlined in the fall.

It included hiring a biologist to focus on human-wildlife conflict, training more trappers, providing a pelt incentive and increasing education about dealing with the animals.

"We've already been out into over 100 schools in the province … explaining safety techniques," said Parker.

"We've also sent material to all school boards."

Meanwhile, the provincial Department of Natural Resources launched a public education plan regarding coyotes on Thursday, urging Nova Scotians to back away and make noise — or BAM — if they see an aggressive coyote.

There are three simple rules: back away, act big and make noise.

"Being coyote smart means carrying a walking stick and noisemaker when hiking in woods, not giving food or leaving food for wild animals," said Boudreau.

"It's hitting the car horn on the car or slamming the door, making noise at the door. I don't recommend running out after it, but certainly trying to get its attention and making sure you're aware that it's there."

With files from The Canadian Press