Problematic feeding of coyotes in Scarborough has continued despite wildlife advocates’ efforts to stop the behaviour
Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is accepting a coyote as a new permanent resident after people continued feeding the animal, stripping the coyote of its ability to live out its life in the wild.
The collared coyote, known as Urban 23 by the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDMNRF), was part of an ongoing issue with coyotes being fed in Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough and the surrounding neighbourhood. Toronto Animal Services, Coyote Watch Canada and the Toronto Wildlife Centre (TWC) have tried to inform the public about the dangers of feeding coyotes and other wildlife through educational signs and media coverage. They’ve also worked to identify and limit food sources for coyotes in the area and initiated an aversive conditioning program to help teach coyotes to avoid people.
Despite their ongoing efforts, the feeding continued and the coyote’s behaviour was deemed unacceptable by city officials.
“While we are pleased to welcome Urban 23 as a permanent wildlife resident, it saddens us to know that this outcome was entirely avoidable,” said Linda Glimps, Executive Director of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, in a press release from the TWC. “Urban 23 will become part of our guided tours, which serve to educate the public on the negative impact of human interference, including feeding wildlife.”
Though coyote experts agree that Urban 23 was not aggressive, his comfort around humans continued to grow due to the food he received from people in the area. Coyotes and other wildlife conditioned by humans have been known to hurt people and pets, even if they’re simply trying to play or seeking out food.
Other coyotes remain in the neighbourhood and the problematic feeding continues, according to the release from the TWC. It’s not just happening in Scarborough but in neighbourhoods across Canada, and wild animals are paying the price.
“Eastern coyotes are resilient and capable providers for their families,” said Lesley Sampson, Founding Executive Director of Coyote Watch Canada, in the press release. “Food handouts are extremely harmful and negatively impact their natural foraging and hunting behaviour. Food rewards encourage unhealthy boundaries between people and wildlife. Coyotes are deserving of our utmost respect, reverence and restraint.”
Urban 23 was a collared animal as part of an MNDMNRF study. He was released by the TWC after being treated for mange and later became conditioned by repeated feedings. Once his behaviour was determined to be an issue, a wildlife veterinarian, MNDMNRF staff and TWC’s Rescue Team tracked and located him inside a construction yard, where he was sedated and caught on Aug. 9.
Urban 23 will live out his life at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Rosseau alongside around 30 other permanent residents. Though advocates are glad to see an available home for the coyote, they consider it an unfortunate result for an animal that would have remained in the wild if it weren’t for human interference. The TWC is encouraging Canadians to advocate for no feeding by-laws, speak out if they see others feeding wildlife and consider donating to Aspen Valley to help wildlife in need.
“Some might consider this a happy ending, but we think the whole situation is just so sad,” said Nathalie Karvonen, Executive Director of the TWC, in the press release. “This coyote’s whole life has been changed, his whole future as a wild animal taken away, by the thoughtless and selfish actions of the people who refused to stop feeding him.”
To make a donation, or to learn more about their work, visit Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary’s website. For more information on the coyote situation in Pine Hills Cemetery and the surrounding neighbourhood, read this July 28 update from the Toronto Wildlife Centre.