Ottawa

Coyote attack on dog prompts call for warning signs

After a dog was attacked by a coyote in the woods near McCarthy Park last weekend, residents and the area's city councillor are calling on the National Capital Commission to speed up the installation of coyote warning signs.

Coun. Riley Brockington says he's been calling on the NCC to install coyote warning signs for more than a year

Alejandro Martinez's five-year-old boxer Maynard needed a trip to the vet and antibiotics after being attacked by a coyote on Saturday. (Supplied)

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  • The NCC tweeted Oct. 3 that signs were being installed in the McCarthy Park woods.

After a dog was attacked by a coyote in the woods near McCarthy Park last weekend, residents and the area's city councillor are calling on the National Capital Commission to speed up the installation of coyote warning signs.

Justine Davies and her sister-in-law were walking their two large dogs through the woods off McCarthy Road last Saturday when a coyote attacked Davies's five-year-old boxer, Maynard.

Davies took the 20-kilogram dog to the vet, who prescribed antibiotics and painkillers. The bill came to $300.

Ottawa residents Alejandro Martinez and Art Miskew both say they've encountered coyotes while walking their dogs in McCarthy Park. 1:45

Alejandro Martinez, Davies's partner, said he's concerned about coyotes attacking other dogs and potentially attacking children in the woods. He would like to see the coyotes relocated, but at the very least he thinks people should be warned about the danger.

"There's no signs, nothing that indicates that there's any sort of risk of going into the park, a park that's marked as a dog park inside the city limits," Martinez said.

There are several entrances to the fenced, wooded area. They're all marked with signs about the $100 fine for not cleaning up dog poop, but they don't mention coyotes.

NCC responsible for alerting people, councillor says

Coun. Riley Brockington said he's been asking the NCC for more than a year to install coyote warning signs in the greenbelt area that runs through River ward.

"I think there's a responsibility to alert people who are about to go into the woods that there's a possibility they may come in contact with coyotes," Brockington said.

After some promising talks with officials, he said he's grown frustrated with the NCC's pace on the file.

"A sign or signage is pretty straightforward to put together," Brockington said.

Signs warning about fines for dog waste adorn the entrance points to the popular walking trails near McCarthy Park, but not about coyote attacks. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Sign design, placement, wording still not finalized, NCC says

NCC spokesperson Dominque Huras said staff are still working on the final design of the warning sign, and haven't yet decided where they'll be installed.

Staff also haven't finalized what the signs will say, she added.

Brockington, meanwhile, said he's meeting with concerned residents Friday to discuss how to raise the importance of the issue with the NCC and make some progress.

Christine Hartig, the City of Ottawa's bylaw and issues management specialist, said the number of coyote sightings across the city hasn't changed much over the past year.

In 2017, from Jan. 1 to June 25, the city received 153 reports of coyote sightings. For the same period in 2018, the city received 154 reports.

She pointed out it's possible that there could be multiple reports about the same animal.

'You've gotta watch out when you're in there,' said dog owner Art Miskew, who doesn't take his dog off-leash in the McCarthy woods. (Stu Mills/CBC)

'People are scared'

"People are scared," said Lynda Reid, who lives near Paul Anka Drive and McCarthy Road.

Reid said she was pursued by coyotes three times as she walked her dogs through the woods this past May. But she continued walking the forested trail until earlier this week, when a particularly brazen coyote approached her and her dog closely, barking aggressively.

Now, she said, she's not sure she'll return.

"You're watching more than you used to," said another resident, 61-year-old Art Miskew, describing how coyotes would follow along silently behind him as he walked his eight-kilogram dog.

"It's nice to have wildlife, but there is a risk," he said. "These guys are natural hunters, and they've got to eat ... You've gotta watch out when you're in there."

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