Sudbury woman recalls 'terrifying' experience with coyotes
Kim Barr estimates she and her dog Molly have hiked on the trails at Rotary Park in Sudbury, Ont. hundreds of times.
But last Friday, she had a wildlife encounter beyond seeing bears, foxes or birds.
The trail runs through a green space along a creek in the middle of the city.
Barr and Molly, her small 23-pound dog, were about half way through the trail when Molly started to bark. Barr looked over and realized three coyotes were near her dog.
"I kind of freaked out," she said.
"I wasn't really sure what to do because I couldn't really assess how much danger I was in."
Barr picked up Molly and started to head back on the trail, but realized she was being followed. She says one of the coyotes stayed about three metres away from her for about the 25 minutes it took her to get off the trail.
"It was terrifying," she said.
"I couldn't believe he was following me. I realized his two friends were in the bushes to either side of me."
Barr says she made the decision not to run, but says she did walk quickly to try and get away. She also says when the animals got closer, she made as much noise as she could.
"I must have yelled at him probably about 25 times and that seemed to help," she said.
"He from time to time would go into the bush, come out and try to cut me off in front of me. I would scream, stamp my feet and I'd yell at him and then he'd go back around and he'd follow me again."
Barr hasn't returned since the incident, but says she wants to go back.
"I'd like to figure out how to keep myself safe when I'm out there," she said.
"I don't want to be afraid to use the trail."
No increase in sightings
In a statement to the CBC, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regional outreach specialist Karen Passmore says the ministry does not track coyote sightings or calls "but anecdotally, [they] haven't noticed an increase."
Passmore says coyotes are usually found in southern Ontario. She adds potential reasons for an increase in coyotes in communities could include changes in land use, agricultural practices, weather, feeding by humans and natural food shortages.
"Coyotes are known to be in the north, particularly along the southern districts and the claybelt where their preferred open habitat is more common," she said.
"However, they are adaptable and can easily take advantage of changing conditions."
The ministry offers the following tip on what to do if you see a coyote:
- Do not approach the animal.
- Do not turn your back or run. Instead, walk away while remaining calm.
- Use whistles and personal alarm devices to scare it.
- Call 911 if a coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety.
- Never feed, touch or attempt to tame a coyote.
- Coyotes are usually wary of humans and will avoid people when possible.
- Make sure your pet is on a leash.
With files from Jason Turnbull