Martin C. Barry
For several weeks now, news outlets all over the province have been reporting sightings of coyotes in the metropolitan Montreal region. While the situation might be a little less alarming in Laval, the city is warning residents that certain precautions must be taken when wild animals such as coyotes are in your area.
Now near cities
Even if coyotes are found principally in rural regions, they have learned how to adapt to urban living. Coyotes can be seen in Laval in forested areas, such as the de l’Équerre woods, as well as the forests of Papineau, Sainte-Dorothée and Chomedey.
Coyotes have also been observed in the district of Saint-François and in woods around Le Carrefour Blvd. Coyotes play a role in keeping the ecosystem balanced by killing and eating small animals which are potentially harmful.
Generally, coyotes don’t seek to confront humans, and are often even fearful. They live on small animals like rabbits and squirrels, carrion from larger dead animals, and sometimes vegetation. In urban areas, coyotes might also be attracted by the odors produced by garbage or compost. They generally avoid areas where there is a lot of human activity and traffic.
Unusual behaviors in coyotes that are potential warnings of trouble include: when they follow humans or domestic animals or show signs of aggression or preparedness to attack. In order to protect everyone, people living in areas where coyotes have been spotted should avoid leaving garbage out, should conduct composting responsibly to keep odors down, and keep domestic animals inside where they are safe.
Careful with dogs
This is particularly true at night, at dawn and at sunset. As well, property owners with fruit trees should gather fallen fruit as this can be a powerful source of attraction for coyotes. Keeping your dog leashed at all times while out walking is also recommended as coyotes could perceive dogs as any other kind of prey in the wilderness.
Should you encounter a coyote, it is suggested you remain calm, and maintain a distance so the coyote can flee. If the coyote reacts aggressively, you should make efforts to seem dominant, make sure that small children remain close to adults, make noise to frighten the coyote (while not turning your back), and call 3-1-1 and 9-1-1 to report the incident to municipal and public safety officials.