Coyotes in Barrhaven more of a nuisance than danger

Most of us have heard them. Some of us have seen them. And they’re here to stay as long as they can find a reliable source of food. I am, of course, referring to the growing number of Coyotes that can be found on the outer edges of Barrhaven.

Coyotes are a resilient species closely related to the Grey Wolf that can adapt to a wide range of habitats. Smaller than a wolf, but bigger than a fox, they call most of North America their home and can now be found in Central America. Some have crossed the Panama Canal, so we might soon see them in South America as well. Needless to say, they are one of the less threatened species and nowhere near endangered.

Barrhaven coyote
Coyotes rarely attack humans, but it’s important to be vigilant, especially with young children.

Coyotes are very vocal animals, and many of you have certainly heard their howls on summer nights when your windows are open, especially if you live near the outer edges of the community.

Coyotes are mostly carnivorous, preying on small animals such as rodents, birds and reptiles. They are also known to enjoy the occasional fruit or vegetable. Coyotes are tribal animals that are most often found in packs which are made up of a nuclear family. Some packs are sometimes formed by non related coyotes, but they tend to dissolve quickly.

Unlike wolves which attack their prey from behind, coyotes attack their prey from the front. They sometimes hunt in pairs, which allows them to feed on larger prey. Coyotes prefer fresh meat, but they will also prey on other animals leftovers. In packs, they can prey on larger animals such as deer, especially in deep snow. Coyotes can also be a problem with farmers who raise livestock such as chickens, pigs and sheep. Seems they share our love of bacon.

Attacks on humans are very rare and almost never cause major injury given the coyotes small size. A fatal attack was reported in Cape Breton several years ago, but again that is the exception to the rule. Unfortunately, with suburbs encroaching on coyote habitat, some of the animals are losing their fear of humans – especially if they are being fed. This is the reason why most coyote/human incidents happen near suburbs such as Barrhaven. It’s not unheard of for a coyote to chase a cyclist or jogger near an urban setting. They tend to be most active early in the morning or early evening, and as we all know, most of the night.

If you enjoy hiking in and around Barrhaven, it’s important to be vigilant and take a few precautionary steps to help assure your safety, especially if you’re out alone early in the morning or early evening. When hiking in the woods, I always carry a bear banger, dog repellent spray and a good walking stick. These items are small and light, but can really make a difference in rare circumstances when confronted by wild animals. I must note that I’ve been hiking on area trails for years and the only incident I’ve ever had was almost getting trampled by a large deer I startled.

Now over to you. Have you had any coyote encounters in Barrhaven? If so, why not tell us about them in the comment section.


One Comment