April 19, 2012 — There's been a rise in coyote sightings in parts of southern Ontario recently and some experts say the milder winter may have played a role.
Earlier this month Toronto police were forced to kill a coyote after it began to aggressively move towards the officers.
This wasn't the first time a coyote has approached a human recently. Back in January, a girl from Oakville was bitten while playing outside with a friend. Luckily, she was wearing snow pants at the time and didn't suffer any injuries.
Some experts say the possible increase in coyote population may be linked to the warmer temperatures this past winter. The milder weather could give the animals more opportunity to mate and hunt.
Dr. Brent Patterson, research scientist at Trent University, told The Weather Network that the effects of a mild winter on coyotes really depends on the environment they live in.
"For example, in agricultural and sub-urban landscapes where mice and voles are an important part of their diet, the mild winter was beneficial in that it offered little cover for these prey and made them easier for coyotes to find and capture," says Patterson. "On the other hand however, in forested areas where deer are an important food source for coyotes, the mild winter helped deer stay strong and didn’t impede their mobility, thus making them more difficult to catch than during "normal" winters."
Residents are encouraged to remain vigilant and watch for possible dangers around forested areas.
Officials say avoiding direct interaction is crucial as well as removing any food sources around your home.
The Town of Oakville has implemented a new coyote management strategy, which includes an online reporting system.
Residents can complete a coyote reporting form, which describes any unusual sightings or encounters.
"The Town of Oakville continues to take a leadership role in creating a comprehensive coyote education and conflict reduction program to address public concern over coyotes," Mayor Rob Burton said in a media release on Tuesday. "This new reporting system will give the town valuable information on coyotes in our community and manage risk."