Too close for comfort
By Jenn Watt
Published Aug. 1, 2017
This week, we have a story about a coyote that grabbed a small dog and ran off into the woods with it. The pet’s owner was thankfully close-by and willing to give chase, eventually catching up with the coyote, which dropped the dog.
The dog’s owner said that the coyote seemed unafraid of him. In fact, he had seen two coyotes the year previous near his cottage on Drag Lake, and they hadn’t batted an eye when he threw a stick at them to chase them off.
It’s impossible to know exactly what has led this particular animal to lose its fear of humans and to wager it safe enough to steal away a pet dog from a cottage driveway, but it isn’t the first.
Every year, we hear stories of wild animals losing their fear of humans and getting too close. Sometimes, those encounters are frightening and dangerous, like the one that happened last week.
While there is no fail-safe way to ensure such incidents don’t happen, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry does have some advice.
The biggest thing is to discourage these animals from your property in the first place. That means no food left out, put away pet food and keep the barbecue clean. Garbage and recycling should be secured.
(Coyotes are attracted to dog feces, so make sure you keep that cleaned up as well.)
Pick ripened fruit from trees and remove fallen fruit from the ground and make sure you fence your garden areas.
Bush area around the property can provide cover for coyotes, the MNRF says, so keeping brush cleared can help.
Closing areas where coyotes can den is a good idea as well – areas under decks and in sheds, for example.
Many of these tips go for other wildlife as well. Even wildlife that doesn’t directly threaten your property and pets can end up becoming a nuisance or creating a problem in the area.
Deer fed near roadways are more likely to get hit by cars and killed, endangering the human drivers behind the wheel. Bears and coyotes that can easily dine on an open garbage bin or pet food will come to associate human presence with delicious food, not danger, and will come visit more often.
These tips are useful as general guidelines, but for those living near coyotes and bears that have lost their fear of humans, they may not be enough.
Unfortunately, the only way to keep pets out of harm’s way while visiting the cottage or out in rural areas is to keep them within sight, on a leash or in the house.
It’s an imperfect solution, but is the best bet to keep your pet safe.