Coyotes – City of Burlington

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Coyote sightings are common in the City of Burlington, as our green spaces and wooded areas provide excellent habitat for them. Although coyotes generally avoid humans, they can pose a serious threat to pets, such as cats and small dogs.

Report a coyote sighting

Coyotes are naturally fearful of humans and should remain wild animals with little human interference. They play an important role in balancing the ecosystem of southern Ontario by controlling populations of rabbits, rats and mice.

By leaving coyotes alone in their natural habitat, we can help prevent conflicts between coyotes, humans and pets.

Living with coyotes

There are things we can all do to make sure coyotes remain wild animals and stay away from people and pets.

Stop Feeding the Coyotes

Never feed coyotes. This includes intentionally or accidentally feeding them by leaving food waste on private or public property. Feeding coyotes teaches them to depend on human gifts and can cause them to become overly familiar with humans. This can lead to aggressive behavior around people and dogs.

Make sure trash, compost, and pet food are stored somewhere that coyotes can’t get to.

On garbage collection day, place your garbage curbside in the morning instead of the night before.

Dealing with Aggressive Coyotes

Coyote sightings are frequent. If you see a coyote, keep your distance and the animal will most likely avoid you. If you encounter an aggressive coyote:

  • Stop and pick up small children and pets
  • Use hazing techniques – Scream loudly and wave your arms in the air
  • Back up slowly while remaining calm
  • Never run or turn your back on a coyote

If you see an aggressive, sick or injured coyote, call 905-335-3030.

If a coyote poses an immediate threat to public safety, dial 9-1-1 and alert Halton Regional Police.

Chase coyotes from your property

Residential neighborhoods are ideal habitat for coyotes. Water, shelter, and food sources like garbage, pet food, and bird feeders make residential areas attractive to coyotes.

You can make your property less inviting to coyotes by:

  • Clean up after your dog, as coyotes are attracted to dog feces
  • Use wire mesh to close off spaces around and under decks and sheds. Make sure the shield goes at least 20 centimeters underground
  • Put up a two meter high fence that extends at least 20 centimeters underground
  • Remove all water and food sources from your garden, including birdseed and fallen fruit. These foods can also attract smaller animals which, in turn, attract coyotes.
  • Remove tall grass, dead brush, and woodpiles, as these provide potential lair sites for coyotes or other wildlife that attract coyotes
  • Store trash, compost, and pet food in a place that coyotes don’t have access to, such as a garage or shed
  • Use flashing lights and motion sensors

Watch this video on how to keep coyotes away from your property.

Hazing of coyotes

Constant hazing will scare coyotes away by reinstilling their fear of humans. Whenever you see a coyote in a residential area, use hazing techniques to scare it away, such as:

  • Spray the coyote with water from a garden hose or water gun filled with vinegar
  • Throw small rocks, large sticks, cans and/or rubber balls near the coyote
  • Using horns and whistles or hitting pots
  • Wave your arms and make you look as tall as possible
  • To scream loudly

Protecting Pets From Coyotes

Never leave pets unattended. Coyotes may chase cats and view dogs as a threat to their territory or family. You can protect your pets by:

  • Keep your pets on a short leash when walking outdoors. 92% of wildlife-dog conflicts occur when dogs are off-leash
  • Avoid known dens and thick vegetation where coyotes may seek shelter. This is especially important during whelping season (April to June) and dispersal period (September to October) when coyotes leave the den.
  • Do not leave pets unattended in your garden, especially in areas that overlook ravines or woodland
  • Keep cats indoors
  • Spay and spay dogs, as coyotes are attracted to and may mate with dogs that have not been spayed or spayed

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Check out some of our frequently asked questions about coyotes and coyote safety.

Can the coyote be moved or killed?
No, we do not recommend moving or killing coyotes, as it is difficult to do and only a temporary solution. Removing one coyote will simply allow another to take its place. Like birds, squirrels, raccoons and other animals, coyotes have found permanent homes in urban areas.
Do coyotes attack people?
Coyotes are very suspicious of humans and avoid people as much as possible. Coyotes that do not show a natural fear of people may have become habituated to humans by feeding them.
Do coyotes eat cats and dogs as a food source?
Coyotes are omnivores. They eat small rodents as well as local vegetation, such as berries and fruits. Although coyotes cannot distinguish between a cat and other small animals, such as rabbits or rats, they do not hunt dogs. Usually, coyotes see dogs as potential competition for food or as a threat.
If I feed a coyote, will it leave my animal alone?
Feeding the coyotes will encourage them to return to a specific area to search for more food. Numerous studies conducted across North America show that feeding animals, intentionally or accidentally, creates a greater risk of conflict.
Will my bird feeder really attract coyotes?
Bird feeders indirectly attract coyotes by attracting rodents. Rodents make up at least 75% of the coyotes’ diet.
Is there such a thing as a shy wolf?
Eastern coyotes share DNA remnants with wolves. Scientists estimate that the species began to interbreed about 100 years ago in northwestern Ontario. Although today’s eastern coyote often resembles a wolf, it is much smaller than a wolf. The small amount of DNA they share with wolves does not affect their behavior in regards to how humans can safely co-exist with them.
Why are there coyotes in urban areas?
The eastern coyote is an extremely intelligent, family-oriented and highly adaptive species. Since the 17th century, Ontario’s landscape has changed dramatically, pushing back natural species such as bears, wolves and cougars. Unlike these animals, coyotes are easily able to navigate urban landscapes. There are many natural food sources, such as rodents and rabbits, in urban settings.
Why can’t the City Animal Services come and pick up the coyote?
Our approach to coyotes in the community is to leave them alone so that they remain wild animals.
The role of animal services is to help and care for lost, sick and injured animals in the community. If you see a sick or injured coyote, call us at 905-335-3030.

Coyote Education and Awareness

We hold educational meetings to help raise community awareness of coyotes and teach people how to avoid conflict with them.

Check out our past coyote briefings.

March 10, 2021 – Coyote Community Gathering

In March 2021, we held a Coyote Information Meeting to answer questions from Burlington and Oakville residents about how to live safely with coyotes.

Discover the video recording of this meeting.

June 13, 2017 – Public Information Session: Living with Coyotes

In June 2017, we held a public information meeting about living with coyotes at Mainway Arena. After the meeting, we acted on the recommendations of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. We have started:

  • Add more signs near areas where coyote conflicts have been reported
  • Implement solutions to minimize litter and food waste in parks
  • Visit active construction sites in areas where coyote conflicts have been reported to remind contractors to maintain a clean and orderly site
  • Visiting plazas and restaurants in areas where coyote conflicts have been reported aimed to share information about eliminating potential food sources for coyotes

Educational resources

Check out these resources to learn more about dealing with coyotes and other types of wildlife.

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