Coyote attacks stoke fear in Riverside South
City, NCC, MNR disagree about who's responsible for controlling increasingly aggressive animals
Riverside South residents are demanding authorities do something after a string of frightening incidents involving coyotes.
While sightings of the wild canines are nothing new in the suburb, which is surrounded on three sides by the Greenbelt, they appear to be growing more bold — and aggressive.
George Bayne, 74, was delivering newspapers on Giant Cedars Crescent early Saturday morning when he stepped out of his car to approach a subscriber's home.
"All of a sudden I feel this pain in my leg and my ankle area. I looked down and there's this coyote gnawing on my leg," the retired graphic designer recalled.
Bayne shouted and the animal released its hold. He hurled a newspaper at the coyote, then grabbed a broom from the home's front porch and began "yelling and screaming."
"This whole time he's coming at me, coming forward, backing off," said Bayne, who's still shaken by the incident.
When the animal finally appeared to retreat, Bayne made a run for the safety of his car. He said the coyote gave chase, pursuing his vehicle down the street.
Unwilling to risk another encounter, Bayne decided to call it a night and drove himself to the General campus of The Ottawa Hospital, where he was given stitches and a tetanus shot. He's also begun what will be a series of painful rabies shots.
Earlier that same night, Julia Frangione, 21, was listening to music on her headphones while walking near the Circle K convenience store on Spratt Road.
When she glanced behind her, she noticed a coyote slinking stealthily toward her.
"Then I just realized I was alone so I kind of panicked — you know, fight or flight — and I flew. I ran screaming," the student said.
Not wanting to turn her back on the pursuing animal, she tried running backward but lost her footing and fell on the grass. The coyote lunged, and Frangione delivered two sharp kicks to its muzzle.
"It was definitely the scariest thing that's ever happened to me," she said.
That's when, Rico Yan, 36, passed by on a late-night milk run to the nearby convenience store with his wife.
Spotting a young woman running back and forth across the road with what he described as a German shepherd-size animal in pursuit, Yan swung his car around and began honking the horn.
He said the coyote was undeterred, and even under the bright street lights chased Frangione in circles around his Mitsubishi, changing directions in an attempt to trap the young woman. Yan threw open the door and Frangione jumped in.
"This is not supposed to happen here. We have thousands of people living here," said Yan, who called police once Frangione was safe.
Around 5 a.m. Wednesday, Teresa Lindig was out for her 5 a.m. walk along Shoreline Road near Puffin Court when out of nowehere, a coyote began nipping at her ankles.
Lindig, 81, couldn't escape the animal, but luckily another Good Samaritan in a passing car came to her aid.
The two drove on to Lindig's home, but when they arrived they found the coyote had followed the vehicle and again tried to attack her as she made her way inside.
Once safe inside, Lindig called Ottawa police and the city.
"They said, 'We can't really do anything about it but we have made a report,'" said her daughter, Erika Lindig.
When they called the National Capital Commission, which is responsible for the surrounding Greenbelt but not the city streets where the attacks took place, "they said, 'It's not on NCC lands so we can't do anything about it,'" Erika Lindig said.
With no one taking responsibility for the attack on her mother, Lindig decided to distribute handwritten warnings to neighbours herself.
That lack of response frustrates Julia Frangione, who said she now refuses to go out after dark, and has started carrying bear spray in her purse.
"How many cases do they need to see before someone does something about it?" she demanded.
The city councillor for the area said she, too, is frustrated with the inaction. Carol Anne Meehan acknowledges coyotes are a part of the ecosystem in many of the sprawling city's suburban and rural wards, but said such aggressive behaviour can't be tolerated.
"Finding out who's responsible for this is turning out to be quite the challenge," Meehan said, adding she's raised the issue with the city's head of bylaw services, Roger Chapman, and has been told the matter rests with Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
"Nobody really wants to take responsibility for it, but the responsibility does lay with the province," she said.
But in a statement to CBC News, a ministry spokesperson disagreed, saying it's the city's jurisdiction, and the province has no plans to intervene. Jolanta Kowalski said staff from the ministry and the city discussed the matter earlier this week.
"The Ministry understands from this exchange that the City is working on a course of action," Kowalski wrote in an email.
Nor is the NCC taking responsibility.
"One of our biologists says coyote behaviour and coyote sightings are consistent with previous years. Coyotes are not behaving differently this year, according to our reports," wrote NCC spokesperson Corey Larocque.
Larocque said the NCC has had only six reports of coyote sightings so far this year, none from Riverside South.
"As you know, the City of Ottawa has a coyote-management strategy. You might consider contacting the City about it," Larocque told CBC.