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Local coyotes becoming more brazen with people

A coyote stands  surveying the area on a bank overlooking Okanagan Lake from the Westside. - Sean Connor/Capital News
A coyote stands surveying the area on a bank overlooking Okanagan Lake from the Westside.
— image credit: Sean Connor/Capital News

Vehicles are about the only enemies coyotes have in urban areas, and it’s not enough to control their numbers, so coyote complaints are way up, according to conservation officer Ed Seitz.

“We’ve been inundated by calls about coyotes. February is their breeding month so they more active than usual,” Seitz explained.

Because the City of Kelowna prohibits the discharge of firearms within the city, Seitz said coyotes in this area have lost their fear of man.

“They thrive where there are houses and farms, where they can take smaller pets and other animals. There are more than I can ever remember,” he said.

In just a couple of days, there have been as many as seven or eight complaints about coyotes from just this region.

“There are just no controls on increasing populations of them,” Seitz said.

“In the wilderness, there would be hunting pressure and predator pressure, but in the city collisions with vehicles are the only limiting factor.”

In a few instances, Seitz said their behaviour has bordered on very aggressive to humans, for instance by taking a pet that’s with a human. In the Vernon area, one was even taken off a leash, he noted.

Another coyote was caught acting quite fearless, stalking a man’s dog, and the man wasn’t even aware of the danger the pet was in, related Seitz.

Everyone out walking a pet should be sure to carry a stout walking stick at least, or an air horn.

Even carry a pocket full of rocks, which can be tossed at a coyote if necessary, he advised.

He warned you should never feed the animals, either accidentally or intentionally.

Once a coyote expects food and doesn’t get it, it can be quite aggressive, he said, although he isn’t aware of anyone being bit yet.

He warned people to take protection when they’re out with their kids because coyotes are real opportunists.

They’re also clever and very difficult to get in to live traps, he said.

Pete Wise, of Wise Wildlife Control Services agrees, noting it can take 1,000 trap hours to capture a coyote.

“They’re highly adaptable and resilient. Traps have to be monitored, so it’s very expensive to live trap them,” Wise said.

Currently, he said coyotes would be undercover, but come April and May, they will have had their pups and become very protective of their den sites.

Both mates go into feeding mode when the pups are born, he said.

If a den is disturbed the mother will actually pick up her babies and move them, so if you locate a den in a residential area, it’s best to notify the CO Service, he advised.

“We create the ideal habitat in the city. No one chases them and there’s lots of garbage available for them to eat,” he said.

Wise warned that it’s illegal for anyone to set a trap without a permit or to shoot in the city limits with either a firearm or a bow. “Leave it to the proper authorities,” he advised.

The worst time to walk your dog is in the morning or evening, because coyotes will sleep during the day and  become active overnight.

Pets, however, are not their favourite food.

A study in the Chicago-area indicated that mice and deer, mostly from roadkills, is tops on the list, while pets are in 10th or 11th place.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

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