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Education key to co-existence: Coyote Watch Canada

Lesley Sampson, executive director of Coyote Watch Canada, gave a presentation at the Collingwood Library on Thursday night

Co-existing should be the goal when it comes to coyotes.

That was the general message during a presentation by Lesley Sampson, executive director of Coyote Watch Canada at her presentation at the Collingwood Library on Thursday night.

“Removing coyotes from the landscape really doesn’t work,” said Sampson.

Sampson is a specialist in coyote behaviour and helped start Coyote Watch Canada back in 2008, aiming to engage with the public and provide information to encourage co-flourishing in communities across Canada.

“When your community is changing, it’s not just affecting you – it’s also affecting them,” said Sampson.

Sampson’s presentation included information on keeping pets safe, keeping coyotes away, techniques for scaring off coyotes should one approach, and background on the Eastern Coyote and their behaviour patterns.

Dispelling myths was also a major part of Sampson’s presentation, as she indicated that many misconceptions about coyotes and their behaviour have been spread through the media. She said that coyotes, by nature, are not aggressive and if a person encounters a coyote, it’s most likely just passing through the area on the search for food and means no harm.

“Anytime a coyote approaches you, call bylaw, because someone is feeding it,” advised Sampson.

Between February 2017 and March 2018, 198 reports of coyote sightings have been filed with the Town of Collingwood.

Jennett Mays, communications officer with the Town of Collingwood, indicates that the majority of the reports have been on the east end of Collingwood and 58% of the sightings have been between dusk and dawn.

“As with many other communities in Ontario and throughout North America, the Town of Collingwood has seen an increase in the number of coyote sightings/reports within the last few years,” says Mays.

Between March 23 and 29, the bylaw department was been made aware of two suspected coyote attacks on two different pets (domestic dogs) in the east end of Collingwood. Prior to the two reported cases, town staff were only aware of one other incident that allegedly occurred on Jan. 23 involving a domestic dog being attacked by a coyote outside of its home on Georgian Manor Drive.

To deal with public outcry concerning coyotes in neighbourhoods, council approved the Coyote Management/Communication plan on April 30.

Sarah Abawi and Kirsten Gabriel, both of Collingwood, have been drafted to start a Collingwood response team branch of Coyote Watch Canada, and have started educating the public by attending local elementary schools to give presentations on coyotes, as well as meeting with different municipal leaders and the OPP as part of the plan.

“With the students, we teach safety with any animal. (For example), asking before petting someone’s dog,” said Abawi.

The duo have already given presentations at Pretty River Academy and Nottawa Elementary School, with more school outreach planned.

To read the Town of Collingwood's Coyote Management/Communication plan in its entirety, click here.

To contact the Collingwood branch of Coyote Watch Canada, click here.


What do I do if I see a coyote?

If residents encounter a coyote, they should keep the following safety tips in mind:

• Do not turn your back on or run from a coyote. Back away calmly.

• Stand tall, wave your hands and make lots of noise.

• If a coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, call 911.

Coyote sightings can be reported using the town’s coyote sighting report form, which is available online at If a coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, call 911.

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 12 years of experience to her role as regional reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood, County of Simcoe and education.
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