Some people have reason to think coyotes more dangerous than experts say
My Thursday fixer column about coyotes snacking on a dead deer at G. Ross Lord Park in North York concluded with an expert saying dog walkers shouldn’t worry about an attack.
But Kenn Leitch, who sent me an email after reading the column, says he’s not so sure about that.
I talked to Dr. Chris Davies, manager of wildlife for the Ministry of Natural Resources, before I wrote the column, to ask how likely it is that coyotes hunted down and killed the adult deer before picking clean its carcass.
Davies said coyotes are quite capable of taking down a deer, but since someone told us he saw no signs of attack when he first spotted the dead deer on Dec. 21, it’s more likely it was hit by a car and made its way into the park, or died of natural causes.
He added that coyotes are unlikely to be aggressive with people or attack their dogs while walking in parks, and that they needn’t fear them.
“I disagree that coyote attacks on dogs are all that rare,” said Leitch, who lives on Kingswood Rd. in the Beaches.
“Our 75 pound Bernese/Collie/Shepherd cross was attacked Saturday in our yard by the new(er) female mate to Neville the coyote, who killed a dog on Neville Park Ave. a few years ago.
“Our dog was not seriously injured and fortunately came to the door on our intense instruction, rather than stand her ground.
“Interestingly, Toronto Animal Services said they only investigate dog bites, and if I’m concerned about rabies to call Public Health. Nice.”
Davies told me that coyotes in Ontario originally migrated from the west, where they are a relatively small animal, and bred with larger eastern wolves to create the predominant strain in the province, which seldom grows larger than about 20 kilograms.
They prefer to stay away from people and are not prone to be aggressive towards us or our pets, he said.
But there are many cases of aggression and some attacks in the GTA, which has me wondering if the urban coyote is learning to be much less timid than its rural cousins.
That’s scary, at least for someone walking a small dog in a secluded area.