Changes in human behaviour lead to changes in coyote routines
Springtime is breeding season for coyotes, as it is for many other animals. By and large, coyotes coexist mostly uneventfully with people and domestic animals. However, emerging evidence suggests that the coronavirus crisis is having consequences on coyote behaviours.
The decrease in human activity may be driving coyotes into areas they would usually avoid, such as now-deserted town centres. Additionally, the decrease in restaurant, café and takeout meals is reducing the availability of discarded human food, which attracts coyotes and/or their rodent prey.
As a result, several concerning incidents have occurred. A person on a local COVID-19-related social media platform said he and his dog were pursued two blocks by a coyote in the Oakridge area Sunday, until they got safely home.
News reports say that a dog was killed and a cyclist was pursued by coyotes in the Fraser Valley in recent days.
As a result, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service has issued a warning and advice for people to protect themselves and their pets.
Preventative measures include:
- Picking up after your dog and keeping dogs on a leash.
- Not feeding pets outside. If needed, cleaning up any pet food immediately after feeding.
- Not leaving any small pets out unattended for long periods of time, particularly at night.
If you experience a worrying encounter with a coyote (or a wolf), the service advises:
- Make yourself look as large as possible – if sitting, stand for example.
- Wave your arms and throw objects at the wolf or coyote.
- Shout at the wolf or coyote in a loud aggressive voice.
- If the wolf or coyote continues to approach don’t run or turn your back. Continue to exaggerate the above gestures and slowly move to safety.
Call the Conservation Officer Service Call Centre at 1-877-952-7277 if a wolf or coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety.