NCC criticized for coyote warning after attack on horse

The National Capital Commission's warning about being careful in the Greenbelt was "fear-mongering" when the group should be informing area residents about coyotes, according to a local wildlife expert.

Donna Dubreuil, head of Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre, says 'fear-mongering' doesn't help

Coyotes are a common wildlife animal in the Greenbelt and the public should be informed about that, according to Donna Dubreuil, president of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The head of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre says the National Capital Commission was scaring south-end residents when they should have been informing them about coyotes in the area.

On Tuesday, the NCC closed two trails after an attack on a horse in the Greenbelt near Woodroffe Avenue. Tracks found near the attack site were believed to belong to a coyote.

The organization then closed two Pinhey Forest trails near the Nepean Sportsplex, as well as the Greenbelt Pathway West, and warned residents and farmers near south Woodroffe Avenue to keep livestock and pets indoors at night.

"Hikers, snowshoers, cross-country skiers and all users of the Greenbelt are asked to keep personal safety in mind and stay on official trails, and to keep their dogs on leashes," the NCC said in a news release.

Donna Dubreuil, president of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre, said Friday the NCC overreacted to the attack, adding the horse's owner has said a coyote was not responsible for the attack.

"The Greenbelt is home to a lot of wildlife and coyotes are certainly among them," she said. "People need to be given helpful information, not kind of being made afraid of animals on the Greenbelt."

"Fear-mongering is not helpful and the NCC, who are supposedly the steward of a very large natural area, should be leading the way in this and not creating problems."

Those paths were reopened by the NCC on Saturday morning. In a statement issued Friday afternoon, a spokesperson said they had been monitoring the area and were satisfied "safety concerns are no longer an issue."

The NCC is asking anyone who spots a coyote to call the NCC emergency line at 613-239-5353.