Oshawa’s coyote problem has some residents scared but City is limited on what they can do

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Published October 4, 2021 at 1:36 pm

Oshawa has a coyote problem and staff isn’t exactly sure what to do about it.

There have been frequent sightings of the animal this year and at least three incidents this year in which a child has been bitten, including one last week in which a child was targeted while playing in a sandbox.

Sightings, in fact, have increased dramatically in the past four years from just 19 in 2017 to more than 500 already this year.

(It should be noted that one coyote sighting does not correspond to one coyote and reports have skyrocketed since late 2020 when the City encouraged residents to do so.)

According to a staff report delivered Monday to the Corporate Services Committee, there isn’t a whole lot the City can do about the problem. Trapping the animal is difficult and you can’t be sure you are trapping the problem coyote, not to mention the risks to pets and other wildlife. Relocating coyotes is problematic anyway as the animals tend to find their way back.

Police can intervene in individual cases if there is a threat to public safety, but that is no easy task either. After the last biting incident Police cordoned off the area but were not able to capture or dispatch the coyote.

This year Oshawa has already amended the Nuisance By-law to prohibit the feeding of wildlife and implemented tiered and escalating penalties for repeat offenders; erected fencing around naturalized areas in locations of concern to create a barrier between coyotes and the public; increased signage warning of the presence of coyotes in the area; removed some community garbage containers; and started a communication campaign with tips on how to prevent and respond to coyote encounters.

The next step will be developing a Coyote Education and Response Strategy, outlining specific situations related to coyote sightings and encounters and how the City will respond to each of them.

Oshawa’s Municipal Law Enforcement is also working with Coyote Watch Canada to conduct a virtual community information session later this fall and Parks Services will be reviewing content of coyote signs with the goal of increasing coyote awareness in the community.

These measures are not satisfying resident Joe Lefebvre, whose six year-old daughter was bitten by a coyote in July.

Lefebvre made a presentation at Monday’s committee meeting, saying when police and parks staff arrived at the scene “a good show was put on, but it was quite evident that none of the response team knew what to do.”

He was told at the time that if it happened again he was to call 9-1-1, but when he did just that a week later when they encountered another coyote, emergency dispatch’s response was “what do you want me to do?”

“Since the attack, my daughter has been terrorized and is in fear that coyotes can get her anywhere including any room in our home,” Lefebvre said in his letter. “My daughter is now broken; she will not go outside in the front or back yard alone. She as well as all of us are afraid to go outside. She is left with internal and external scars and yet the city has never provided any feedback on what has been done or if anything is going to be done.”

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