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Coyote sightings on the rise in New-Wes-Valley

Coyote.
Coyote. - 123RF Stock Photo

Caution issued to residents

NEW-WES-VALLEY, NL – Ken Hoyles has only seen one coyote in his lifetime – five years ago, at Traverse Brook, near Gambo.

However, from May 28-31 of this year, the New-Wes Valley (NWV) mayor says the town has issued three cautions to residents about coyote sightings in the community.

In speaking with the Beacon, Saturday, June 2, Hoyles confirmed another reported coyote sighting that day.

He says the canine species had been spotted individually and in group settings.

There has always been a small presence of coyotes in the general area since first being detected in the province, the mayor said.

The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources website states coyotes were first confirmed on the island in 1987, near Deer Lake, and by the mid-‘90s had spread throughout most of Newfoundland. It is now considered native to Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Last year we started noticing the increase, but before that, you’d see the occasional one in the country,” Hoyles said. “Now their presence is really being felt in the community.”

He couldn’t confirm what has brought about the increased presence in the community, but says there are reports of dens in the area of Hermit Cove, near Badgers Quay.

“They say they are breeding down there, but I can’t say for sure,” he said.

But with a healthy small game population and no predation, Hoyles said it would be easy for the species to reproduce quickly.

“It might be the same animals being spotted, I’m not sure, but to have them in our community suggest there has been a growth in numbers,” he said.

Concerns

Fortunately, there hasn’t been any altercations between residents and the animals.

Which is where Winnie Stratton’s concern lies.

On the evening of June 1, Stratton pulled into her driveway, in the Valleyfield portion of the amalgamated community, when two coyotes ran in front of her vehicle.

The coyotes were behind her home for a short while before moving on to other properties.

“With children and small pets in the community, it’s kind of scary to think about, because they say they (coyotes) are not to be trusted,” she said.

The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources is looking into the matter, but wasn’t able to provide the Beacon with a response as of deadline.

Coyote features

Slimmer and smaller than a wolf, usually weighing about 25 to 40 lb., and measuring about 4-5' long and about 2' high at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller than males.

Tawny, black-tipped, bushy tail, generally carried below the horizontal line of the animal's back, with a scent gland located at the root of the tail. Strong-smelling urine is used to mark its territory. Coat is usually tawny gray with black tips, with white fur on its throat, belly and inside the ears. Long, soft fur is light-coloured in winter, darkening in summer.

Legs, paws and long, pointy muzzle are reddish yellow. Unlike most dogs, the top of a coyote's muzzle forms an almost continuous line with the forehead. Eyes are yellow; ears are wide, pointed and erect.

Communicate using a complex vocal system; commonly two short barks and a long, wavering yodel. Excellent hearing and vision. Agile runners, reaching speeds of more than 60 kilometres an hour.

Source: Department of Fisheries and Land Resources

If coyotes are near your home

• Never leave edible garbage or pet food outside.

• Limit use of birdseed, and pick up fallen fruit around your property.

• Keep pets indoors, or under supervision when outside. Roaming or unattended pets
are an easy target for coyotes. Have pets spayed or neutered to avoid attracting coyotes.

• Never attempt to tame a coyote by feeding it.

• If you are having a problem with coyotes near your home, contact a local Conservation Officer or other authority.

Source: Department of Fisheries and Land Resources

If a coyote approaches you

  • Stop, remain calm and assess your situation.
  • Never approach or crowd a coyote - give it an escape route.
  • If the coyote seems unaware of you, move away quietly when it is not looking in your direction.
  • If the coyote is aware of you, respond aggressively: wave your arms, shout, and maintain eye contact. Carry a whistle and blow it to startle the animal.
  • Throw rocks, sticks or other objects at the coyote. It's a good idea to carry a walking stick with you for protection if necessary.
  • If the coyote continues to approach, back away slowly and move toward buildings or human activity. Do not turn away or run. This will encourage the coyote to chase you.
  • If the coyote attacks you, fight back.

Source: Department of Fisheries and Land Resources

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