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Coyote sightings frequent, caution advised

Posted: March 19, 2018

Coyote sightings frequent, caution advised

East St. Paul council is reminding residents to exercise caution when outdoors as coyote sightings in the RM are still frequent.

Residents are asked to have their pets on leashes at all times and do not leave them unattended even in fenced back yards.

Mayor Shelley Hart says people need to be aware that due to where they live, wildlife sightings are going to be common, and that taking precautions to keep yourself and your pets safe is a must.

"We live in a rural municipality and must take extra precautions due to our coyote population," Hart says.

"Wildlife co-exist with us outside the city limits and we need to be aware and prepare.  Sightings of deer, rabbits and foxes do happen, and while those animals might cause property damage, coyotes can be more aggressive and pose a threat to people and pets.  We need to be aware and keep safe."

Chief Administrative Officer Sheila Mowat said RM staff members have been working with Manitoba Conservation on areas of concern.  Staff are mapping where coyote sightings have been reported and will be compiling that information to determine if there are trends.

"We need the public to be our eyes and ears and not only report coyote sightings, but behaviour as well," Mowat said.

"If you've seen coyotes in your area in the past and now there's more, they're braver, they're not scared away as easily, those are interactions we need to know about.  Any kind of changes that they're seeing, and especially any kind of changes in behaviour that they've noticed when they see them, that's important to let us know that."

Janine Stewart, Human-Wildlife Conflict Management Biologist with the province's Wildlife and Fisheries Branch, said coyotes are typically out and about under the cover of darkness when there's less human activity, so if you are seeing them during the day, that's important to note.

"They generally tend to be more active from dusk till dawn, when people are less on the landscape, so they'll try and avoid people if they can.  If their behaviour changes and they're becoming more active in and around people, that's something we want to be aware of," Steward said.

"That shows they're becoming increasingly habituated, more comfortable being around people and that a warning that their behaviour could be on a path toward becoming more aggressive."

She said if they're coming close to people and their pets or areas where children would generally be playing during the day, that's a definite sign of aggression.  Though it's very rare, Stewart said coyotes have been known to attack pets that are close by their owners or even on leashes.

You should also be cautious when leaving your pet alone in a fenced yard.

"Definitely.  (Coyotes) can jump and they can dig, so they're able to get in and around fences fairly easily," Stewart said.

She said the province recommends fences be two-metres tall and extend underground at least 30 cm, or have an L-shaped mesh apron extending out about half a metre, secured with landscaping staples, to prevent coyotes from digging under or going over the fence.

The province doesn't do coyote counts, so she said they don't have an exact number of the coyote population.

"We generally say (numbers) are stable because there's a sustainable harvest of coyotes each year, but for localized areas in particular it's pretty tough for us to say if they're increasing, decreasing or otherwise," Steward said.

"They'll fluctuate (based) on food availability and what other pressures they may be facing in terms of disease."

The province allows trapping of coyotes by licensed trappers in East St. Paul, which falls into the province's Open Trapping Area Zone 3, from Oct. 14 - Feb. 28.

Last year, 6,250 coyotes were taken by trappers in Manitoba; the year before 9,881 were taken.

Stewart said coyotes have one litter per year and average around four to six pups per litter.

Hart said public safety is of utmost importance.

"I can't stress enough for residents to please keep your pets on a leash and don't leave them unattended, even in your yard," she said.

If you see a coyote, please call the RM at (204) 668-8112.


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