Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to remove incorrect information (including the child’s age) that was included in the original version.
A toddler in an Oshawa park was begged by a coyote, thought to be protecting a den.
The boy was playing at Sunnydale Park, off Thornton Road near Gibb Street, in late June, when the coyote rushed him to defend a hidden nearby den.
“Coyotes get very defensive when you get close to their kits,” said Oshawa Regional Councilor Brian Nicholson.
The child suffered a minor injury to his back and received medical attention, explained Nicholson. Durham police (DRPS) and the Ministry of Natural Resources were notified of the encounter.
The city issued a statement reminding residents to be careful around natural areas in their neighborhood. Coyotes are more active at this time of the year as they rear their pups. Residents and property owners are encouraged to wildlife proof their property, adhere to leash bylaws, supervise pets when in the yard and not feed coyotes.
After several confirmed bites by coyotes, and an increase in reported coyote sightings, the Oshawa council passed a Coyote Response Management Plan early this year.
The plan supports coexisting with coyotes using education, behavior modification and escalating actions to deal with human-coyote conflicts.
Under the plan, when a coyote bites a person, it is reported to Durham Regional Health Services, DRPS and the ministry. Council members are also notified.
With a repeat biter, the city can hire a qualified and licensed hunter or trapper to investigate and, if needed, attempt to humanely eliminate the responsible coyote.
“We’ve not had to ever use that. There’s no repeat biters. It’s the essence of wildlife that you can’t threaten their young,” said Nicholson. “We try to educate people first to not put themselves in conflict with coyotes.”
Here’s what to do if you encounter a coyote:
• Stop and pick up small children and pets.
• Stand still, never run from or turn your back on a coyote.
• Make yourself big, wave your arms above your head.
• Be loud and assertive.
• Slowly back away, keeping an eye on the animal.
“Most times if you don’t approach them, they’re going to just walk away … We get more bites in the city of Oshawa from dogs than we ever get from coyotes,” said Nicholson.
Keep coyotes from visiting your yard:
• Keep your property clean — trim back bushes and weeds, scoop your dog poop, and keep your barbecue area clean.
• Secure your home and sheds — seal openings into and under buildings, decks and porches.
• Keep your dog on a leash and supervise them when they are outdoors.
• Bring your pets in at night.
• Remove food from your yard — secure your garbage, keep pet food indoors, clean up spilled bird seed and fallen fruits.
“We’ve had some people that are actually feeding them. It takes away their natural fear of humans. We had to pass a bylaw that it’s now illegal to feed wildlife,” said Nicholson.
Residents are asked to report sightings to Service Oshawa online at service.oshawa.ca, by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 905-436-3311.