Ottawa coyotes more popular than ever


The eastern coyote has been a huge topic of conversation here on the Outdoors Guy over the past couple of years. Even when the subject is changed, things always seem to revert back to wile e coyote and its place(or lack thereof) in the Nation’s Capital.

MNR Biologist Scott Smithers recently spoke with Ron Corbett of the Ottawa SUN to share, what I would describe as, important insight into the coyote situation from a wildlife management standpoint.

It would seem apparent that even an MNR Biologist realizes something needs to be done about predator control, but alas politics and animals rights rear their ugly heads.

I see the coyote now like that kid in elementary school who was always getting in trouble. My parents would tell me “yeah, but he has troubles at home”, and the teachers would label him a problem child or blame it on upbringing. Sure, he’d be good for few days but you just knew things were on the edge of boiling over at any given moment.

Our coyotes are like this troubled kid in school. Sure, it may not be completely the child’s fault but they continue to disrupt the class so something needs to be done about it.

Here is Ron Corbett’s article:

Put people before coyotes, biologist

By Ron Corbett

On Sunday, I wrote about the problems a woman in Nepean was having during the Christmas holidays with a coyote in her backyard.

The eastern Ontario biologist for the natural resources ministry is aware of the story and thinks it should be a wake-up call for the city of Ottawa, especially as it pursues a new wildlife management strategy.

“Most cities in Ontario are in denial when it comes to coyotes,” says Scott Smithers. “For years we have been telling people that coyotes are not dangerous, that there have never been coyote attacks on people in Eastern Canada.

“Well, we can’t say that anymore. There have been attacks. And the truth is, coyotes are changing – their habits, the sheer number of them – it’s a very different situation from what it was even five years ago.” 

Last month a seven-year-old girl was bitten by a coyote in her backyard in Oakville. In October 2009, a teenager was attacked and killed by coyotes in Cape Breton. These are the attacks Smithers is talking about.

He says a reassessment on how the city handles wildlife issues – from beavers in Stittsville to coyotes in Nepean – is “long overdue” although he worries “a lot of emotional arguments” may doom the exercise before it even gets started.

He won’t come right out and say it, but he’s talking about political correctness. About treating wild animals like Disney characters, little doe-eyed Bambis that can never be hunted, trapped, or even bothered.

Yet we need this debate. You just have to look at an aerial map of Ottawa to see why. We are surrounded by wilderness, with green space running like the spokes on a wagon wheel from the rural boundary right up to the downtown core.

Smithers says there are probably coyotes living within a kilometre of Parliament Hill. “We are a southern Ontario city,” he says, “with Northern Ontario wildlife issues.” 

Despite this rather unique characteristic of our city, we have no strategy on how to manage our wildlife, or what to do when there are conflicts between animals and people. We simply refer people to other levels of government. Or expect the police to deal with it.

Two years ago — when coyotes started eating lap dogs in Osgoode — the city finally decided it was time to come up with some sort of plan. It formed an advisory committee, to make recommendations on a municipal wildlife management strategy.

Smithers sits on that committee, although he is not optimistic the city will end up with a good plan.

“To be frank, I found it a frustrating experience,” he says. “A lot of stakeholders were involved, and there was a lot of emotion at the meetings. I’m not sure good science is going to dictate the city’s policy.” What might carry the day is the “emotional argument” that says animals should never be hurt, under any circumstances.

Smithers says such a policy would be foolhardy. He says people should come first in a city, even though he is a trained biologist and hopes the city policy will respect wildlife.

“It’s like that woman in Nepean with the coyote in her backyard,” says Smithers. “That coyote clearly is showing no fear of humans, and that’s dangerous. You can’t just tell her to co-exist with that animal.” Yet that’s exactly what many animal rights groups tell municipalities to do. The most egregious example might be Glendale, Arizona, which debated a cull of coyotes after a four-year-old girl was killed by coyotes.

Animal Defense League member Pamelyn Ferdin, covered in fake blood, appeared at the council meeting to oppose the cull and to argue the child had not actually been killed by coyotes, but had been the victim of child abuse.

The cull went ahead, and within 80 days 56 coyotes had been trapped or killed within half-a-mile of the attack site.

“You shouldn’t walk around in fear of coyotes. You need to realize these attacks are extremely rare,” says Smithers. “At the same time, you shouldn’t walk around thinking wild animals are pets.” City staff is currently putting the finishing touches on the wildlife management strategy report. It should come before city council this spring.

It will be interesting to see how the city has responded to the various stakeholders in this debate. Let’s hope people get as much respect as animals, and science trumps emotion.


Other related coyote articles:



36 thoughts on “Ottawa coyotes more popular than ever”

  1. “Cate” replied to an earlier post with this comment:

    Yes there is a pack of three coyotes in Britannia. Specifically Mud Lake and Ambleside Park. They come out in the evening from Mud Lake and leave in the morning – one I know was still there in the bushes at the entrance of McEwen this morning at 7:19 a.m.. They have little fear. People will not stop feeding them. One is very large.


    1. Cate, the part of your comment that really caught me eye with regards to coyotes in Britannia was:

      “People will not stop feeding them”

      You mean to tell me there are residents of Ottawa who actively feed coyotes in this part of town? You’ve got to be kidding me??

      It’s the first I’ve ever heard of this so someone please tell me this is not happening?


  2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It is up to the MNR to decide the numbers and the method for managing wild life. Their tools are the hunters and trappers. Stop tying our hands with stupid regulations and let us do our jobs.

    We can’t set snares, because we might catch someones illegally loose dog, but we can set baited 280’s which will kill a dog just fine (does that make any sense to anyone?). Towns make bylaws to stop trappers from working inside huge swaths of land that ultimately leads to these protected areas (cities) where animals thrive without recourse.

    We can’t hunt in much of the city, because guns and bows are scary; despite the green areas being large enough to support hunters.

    And at the end of the day, people will complain that the city and the mnr are not doing their job and that they should “hire” someone to do the job. Apparently unknowing that they already have a mechanism in place to do the job (and will pay the gov’t for the rights to do it)

  3. I posted this on the original article, would like to share it here….

    A bounty is required, a cull will be a temp solution. If everyone in Ottawa kept their garbage in sealed containers, their cats indoors (like a responsible pet owner) the coyotes would not be around. The bird feeders also dont help, they attract rodents. Besides this hunting pressure can keep coyotes in check. The effects of a one time cull will quickly be erased since breeding season is coming and if the food is available (cats, rodents and garbage) the coyotes will rebound before the end of the year with a larger litter size…..this has been proven. A bounty encourages more hunter participation, and steady pressure will move the coyotes to normal values. I also think the bounty should not be limited to hunters but also made available to trappers using live traps in populated areas.

    1. Hey Dan, good to hear from you…it’s been awhile.

      I do agree with you in principle, unfortunately just the use of the word ‘Bounty’ brings along a certain stigma which tends to be counter-productive when talking Conservation. Your point about controlling numbers is well taken though, regardless of what we call it.

      What about the wilful feeding of coyotes, as one reader has indicated? Ever heard of someone putting out coyote food in Ottawa??


  4. Rob, I’m with you, but it seems the city and/or the NCC is involved with a ‘wildlife management’ plan which may interfere with what the MNR has in plan. At least, that’s what I got out of Ron Corbett’s article.

    I do think the MNR needs to say, this is going to be it and here’s our plan, now deal with it.

    Unfortunately, I believe it’s going to take a serious attack on someone for all the liberalist animal lovers to realize that we can’t co-exist in an urban centre. I do believe we are churning up land for homes at an incredible (saddening?) rate, but I certainly also believe the coyote population is growing far too much. It’s a bad situation.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I talked with a farmer last year and asked him how he felt about coyotes given the fact he’s been farming for 40 + years.

    Not verbatim, but his quote was something along the line of : ” Let me put it this way – before, a yote would see me and run. Now they either sit there watching me or they’ve approached me. Plus, they’re bigger. They’ve no doubt mixed with wolves because they are getting really big.” He also said he rarely saw them before and now a day barely goes by without seeing one.

    Sure…that’s one quote, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s a quote from someone who farms the land and is out there pretty much every single day. Farmers know what’s going on. He wasn’t speaking with emotion – just dictating the facts. No more down-to-earth person as a farmer to tell it how it is.


    1. OK, its obvious we have the solution to the problem at hand..and more than enough trained, educated and intelligent individuals around here to get it down, but the real issue lies with politics and public opinion.

      As Biologist Scott Smithers said…”Let’s hope Science trumps emotion..” but of course it seems that emotion, public opinion and politics play a much greater role that pure science or basic wildlife management.

      Regardless whether urban sprawl or adaptability of the species is to blame for the size and number of coyotes we have today, the time to deal with them is now! If only it were so easy as to let the people who know what’s going on, handle the situation..we wouldn’t be in this mess now.

      Oh and as a footnote, all the deer around my place have suddenly vanished. First it was a dog on the loose last Monday and now the coyotes have moved back-in and pushed the deer out of the area. I went for a walk in the back and fresh coyote tracks were all over the place!

      P.S. Keebler, I love your farmer’s observation because its totally true!

  5. Hi Outdoors guy….I know its been a while eh sorry.

    Ya I know a bounty wont go well, but what are the solutions. Trappers cant trap because careless pet owners let their pets wander, and they get caught in snares and traps. When they loose a pet to a coyote or a trap the pet owners are not blamed!!! Cats need to be in the house and dogs in the yard or on leash out of the yard. Conroy pit off leash area is going to produce a dog fatality pretty soon, with the coyote numbers in that area.

    I have clients that shoot 30-40 coyotes every winter in the same areas, year after year! These few hound guys are not enough to control the population, coyotes rebound real quick. A bounty would encourage more guys to get out, especially the under paid trappers

    As for feeding them on purpose…those people deserve to get their ankles bitten by a mangy yote.


  6. The sad part of this whole thing is there there is not enough snow to do arial assessments of the area for the deer herd in southern ontario, so the delema is what do we do on the deer herd and yote problem . i know the area i hunt is plum full of yotes always has been as the farmer will not let me shoot them but there has always been deer .. this year there is NONE(camera out since sept and only one deer) something has pushed them away… the numbers must be way high for yotes….

  7. oh and on the emotion part, that’s why i’ve been avoiding taking my kids to disney.

    I believe it’s their fault for most of the emotion surrounding ‘cute little furry animals’.

    they made the hunter out to be the ‘evil’ one in Bambi.

    I try to sit objectively and think of a possible solution like the lady from the habitat centre says, but this isn’t a case of too many rabbits. These are predatory animals for crying out loud.

    To me, it’s like the emotions add the square root of this and that to the pii of this divided by that multiplied by x, minus y + z = (sum – to the factor of 2, divided by 10000).

    When really it’s a simple mathematical solution:

    too many yotes – take some out = fewer around


  8. Outdoors guy:

    I also read Ron Corbett’s column on the weekend. I am afraid something bad is going to happen if measures are not taken. I was totally shocked to read about the lady with a coyote actually living in her back yard.

    To me, a bounty or a cull make total sense. However, now that coyotes are living in populated areas how would you safely manage that? How would you eliminate coyotes living in Britannia?


    1. Hunting Mom, unfortunately there is no one easy answer to the problem at this point. As Rob and others have pointed out..hunters and trappers have their hands tied when it comes to Ottawa City limits. Trappers are limited by regs and restrictions, while the no discharge zone within Ottawa pretty much rules out rifles. The sad part is, had these predators been managed in forested around the city during previous years, we would probably not be seeing the number of Urban Yotes we do today.

      I know this opens a whole kettle of fish, but really the trapping industry getting and shite-kicking over the past 25 years certainly hasn’t helped! Truth be told, most furbearers NEED to be thinned each year just to remain at current population levels..beaver and muskrat for example. Sorry, getting off track here but you see my point. Trapping has had an image problem which it may slowly been rectifying thank prices are on the rise!

      All this to it too late to manage coyotes within CITY limits? Well, it certainly is too late to manage them effectively (easily) in my opinion. Now we have so many moving parts and ‘stake holders’ involved, it’s hard to tell which way is up.

      How to deal with the coyotes we currently have around town??

      I honestly do know what can be done ‘legally’ at this point to control coyote numbers within town..short of taking matters into our own hands(quietly) but I would never suggest such a thing as it would get a lot of people in trouble.

      I can tell you I’ve got a few coyotes in my neck of the Ottawa woods I’d love to give away!

      Anyone interested??


  9. People are feeding coyotes…..
    now I’ve heard it all.
    Funny thing is, we live near the NCC Greenbelt, and I’ve never seen so many squirrels
    and there must be coyotes in the bush around here

    1. Iggy, I saw a coyote in the field at St Joseph and Bearbrook awhile back..I think its the field they grow strawberries in during the summer…I used to see deer in that feild too but not recently.

      So they’re not far away…


  10. Cubby sets and snares work great, but pets are an issue. Typically dogs will just sit put when they get snared (if they are leash trained that is), but the odd one will fight and after that it’s game over. Paw holds are pet safe, but far less effective. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place unfortunately.

  11. jeff you hit the nail on the head there pal , had trappers and hunters not had their hands tied for so many years in the outlying ottawa areas the coyote population probably wouldnt be overflowing into urban areas as we’re seeing now.Folks this is not just coyote problem . in my opinion in the near future you will see the very same thing happening with the black bear population in this area !!! the deer in my neck of the woods are now a minority the amount of bear and coyote sightings around here would shock most people .. this is proof first hand of the damage that animal activists and anti hunters do by coaxing people to think with emotion instead of science …. no doubt the city of ottawa will react the same way… cant wait to hear their wildlife management strategies should be good for a chuckle or two.

  12. Speaking of feeding coyotes. It seems to me a sponge soaked in beef broth is a good snack for them..Hint Hint
    Of course it would have to be well placed. I have not got much use for the inti’s or there politically correct cousins (polititions). An old guy once told me he wished the polititions would hurry up and outlaw hunting.I asked him why because he loved to hunt. His answer was the sooner they outlaw it the better the hunting will get. Took a while to understand but he was right.

  13. By the way Jeff you should get that picture of the coyote with the cat draped out of it’s mouth blown up with the caption ( COMING TO A NEIGHBOORHOOD NEAR YOU). Run off a few hundred copies and let us pin them up around town. Seeing is believing. Maybe when the citiots envision there own little( whiskers) or (rover) in that death trap there might be some heat put on the political idiots in charge to do something


    Get a grip people. Since 3 million children are bitten by dogs every year, your small child is MILLIONS of times more likely to get hurt by the family pet than by a coyote.

    And if you keep training them by leaving out tasty snacks like small pets, scrap food, and as someone mentioned, attracting rodents, not to mention feeding them deliberately or with food you leave outside for your pet, then you should be paying for any controls that need to be carried out for aggresively behaving animals. Just as it is when domestic dogs attack humans, it is humans are also to blame for their sloppy/ lazy/selfish habits for wildlife “issues”

    talking about emotions. it’s people overstating the dangers that are asking for the culls, when science is very clear that culls only work temoporarily.

    1. sanity said: “it is humans are also to blame for their sloppy/ lazy/selfish habits for wildlife “issues””

      Sanity: if not for the money and effort by hunters and conservationists, stable and thriving wildlife populations you see across North America would never have achieved such healthy numbers.

      Look it up!


      1. Sadly, I think the biggest hurdle we hunters and fishermen face is the fact that we thoroughly enjoy and care about fish & wildlife and what happens to it (incl coyotes). I believe the concept and principles of fish and wildlife management are accepted by most since they are based on science, biology and research.

        For some reason, though, since the people out there practising hunting and fishing are actually enjoying it…there must be something wrong with them.

        How can you enjoy that sort of thing….ewwww, you’re kind of a freak. You’ve heard it and I’ve heard it! Again, it has to do with public perception. Non-hunters think because we enjoy this we must be blood-thirsty is this bad press we’ve had to deal with for years.


  15. sanity, bitten by a dog and attacked by a wild animal are 2 very different things. I would say out of those 3 million dog bites, the vast majority won’t be by pit bulls or the like which tend to be vicious attacks – perhaps close to, but I would bet not the same as a coyote attack. Wild animals aren’t supposed to be in people’s urban backyards. If it were rural, then duh, no issue as that’s expected.

    Jeff, you’re right – it’s bad press, a lack of understanding or a simple ignorance by what I would guess to be many folks who haven’t even set foot in the bush……or at least, rarely do.

    But that is an age old argument.

    I do find it intriguing that folks don’t seem to take a coyote serious. Although not as big as a timberwolf, they can be just as dangerous in numbers.

    If it were timberwolves lurking around, I think more people would be afraid simply because ‘wolves’ has a certain stigma. The stigma around coyotes is that they are smaller and maybe not as dangerous. People don’t realize that strength in numbers is just as dangerous and coyotes are getting bigger.


  16. @sanity … there is a big difference between a cull and effective wildlife management through hunting and trapping

  17. Outdoors guy:
    The three million dog bites per year that Sanity refers to are the family golden retriever saying “let go out of my ear”. They can hardly be compared to what would happen if a child were attacked by a coyote, or worse, a pack of coyotes.

    Unfortunately, the prevailing attitude today as we see in Sanity’s comments is that we should somehow accommodate this dangerous predator living in our midst.

    Coyotes should be afraid to come anywhere near human beings, their pets or their garbage. The only way to make sure that they do fear humans is for humans to hunt them. This is a healthy relationship.


  18. A dog that bites a child can usually be identified, how do you identify a rabid coyote that you may not ever see again

  19. it’s the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was and they’ll continue singing it forever just because,

    it’s the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was and they’ll continue singing it forever just because,

    it’s the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was and they’ll continue singing it forever just because,

    it’s the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was and they’ll continue singing it forever just because,

    it’s the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was and they’ll continue singing it forever just because,

    it’s the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was and they’ll continue singing it forever just because,…..

      1. Trapper, sadly the issue itself is as repetitive as the song, but I am hoping one day they’ll find an ending to it. At least with MNR Biologist Scott Smithers speaking out on the subject, we recognize there is a coyote problem unique to the CITY of Ottawa and may actually work towards rectifying it.

        Lots of City’s are now seeing coyotes move through their urban core, but the political situation here in the Nation’s Capitol is whole other ball of wax…more like an Avril Lavigne song I know: “Why do you have to go and make things so complicated?”


  20. The city will probably end up hiring people to live trap the coyotes, then drive them 100 miles from here so they can then become a problem for the people living in that area. This of course will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and create a new set of problems for wherever these coyotes get transplanted to because they will not be afraid of humans, and will continue their dangerous ways. The animal activists/antis/tree huggers will claim this is the right thing to do, no matter what the cost, because we can’t hurt these innocent animals, when we clearly have WAY more important things to be spending our money on.

  21. I’m still not sure why any sort of solution they come up with has to be a one time fix? Seems to me that is a regular theme to these discussions. But the reality is, we’re dealing with a living breathing problem. And from moment to moment the solution changes. Wildlife management is like balancing a plate on a sword. Sometimes you are having to speed up the plate, sometimes you are moving the sword.

    No one here is advocating wiping them out. That would be ridiculous, and next to impossible these days (simply not enough hunters out there). And at the end of the day would cause more problems (prey will over run, disease, starvation etc).

    But on the other side of the coin, leaving things be isn’t a solution either. For the most part, aside from a few hunts here and there in the valley, there simply isn’t a big enough dent in the population to affect change to date. This is causing more pressure on the coyotes that are in the bush, which is leading to more interactions with people. Cutting that pressure means fewer interactions. Some years we might have to be hard and fast on the numbers, others leave them alone. Currently, we’re in the former.

  22. from my knowledge of the MNR they have to do things in 2 year cycle’s it takes two years to pass a law they must go through planning and them a EBR then pass into law. that is the only problem with our system we have these biologist with great ideas but they must jump though hoops to implement there SCIENTIFIC IDEAS . this is one thing in my opinion they need to stop doing and all the constant discussions with other groups do what is good for the many and screw the few thats my motto

  23. Rob, you are right.

    The MNR did this with the deer population a few years ago. It was booming so they released up to 6 or what is 7 extra tags than that success combined with that nasty winter (’08?), the numbers were reduced and so were the tags.

    It’s this management which I hope the antis realize is out there.

  24. Hi there,
    Yes finally people are stopping from feeding. It was a big thing – peanut butter, meat, eggs and bread and peanuts and dog deposits of people not picking up after their dogs. Primarily because Yay! NCC officials have been present last week in Ambleside park. That being said, I did walk from McEwen to New Orchard during the day on Sunday and found that something or someone has been ill and leaving large blood splotches every 6 feet or so. That really scared me. Also I have seen the coyote that has mange. They were travelling (three of them) Friday night and tried to come up on us going off the park and onto McEwen tracking us. The one with mange appears ill. They They were out again Sunday p.m. I do think the city should trap the problem ones and ill ones. I have seen them 5 times in 7 days. We got in Friday night seconds before they were body slamming the door. It is un-nerving. I have talked to the NCC who said they would investigate. and get back. Nothing to report on that yet. Other people in Britannia have reported sightings. Smiths Falls radio are warning residents. I heard a whistle will help.

    1. Cate, the situation you describe sounds very serious to me. I had no idea coyote sightings were common-place in your part of town.

      I can why you are so concerned – any idea what NCC’s plan is with regards to these coyotes in your area? Especially the ones with visible signs of illness.


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