Coyotes, an investigative report
Apr 27, 2011 / 5:00 am
They've been reported all around Kelowna. They've come in search for food, mates and shelter, and they may never leave.
Danielle Macdonald spotted a coyote near Pearson Road Elementary in Rutland.
"I was very surprised to see it there, especially with all the noise and people around, it seemed out of place," says Macdonald.
Macdonald says there are many children who live in the area and while she was watching the predator it was watching the playground.
Conservation Officer Terry Myroniuk says the handful of canids that have not been chased out by now are likely going to stick around.
"It's quite feasible that those animals won't necessarily settle down (return to the wild)," says Myroniuk.
Coyotes adapt quickly to what's around them, even if it's in an urban landscape, it becomes their new environment, says Myroniuk.
"Once they get habituated it's really no different than the wild. The habituated coyote will go down the street near downtown Kelowna with little fear of retribution and it becomes an extension of what a pristine habitat would be in their eyes."
Myroniuk does say coyotes in outlying areas are more likely to return to the wild, but several 'trouble coyotes' will likely make the streets their new home.
"It's probably a few problem animals that are generating most of our complaints and most of our problems."
Rutland, the lower mission and downtown each have one or more troublesome coyotes, says Myroniuk.
"There's really nothing that can be done to reverse that behavior, it's learned."
While the coyotes have killed several dogs and numerous cats, Myroniuk says that the number of complaints is dwindling as people get used to their presence.
"We can't say it enough: people are really inviting them into our neighbourhoods by tolerance. Don't welcome them into our residential environments by feeding them and leaving out attractants. When it comes to the reactive measures, where we already have habituated animals like we do in certain parts of Kelowna, what we'd encourage the public to do is call Conservation at 1-877-952-7277 immediately."
As for why the coyotes are in town to begin with, he says it is likely a combination of two factors: the lack of domestic rabbits as a food source and tougher firearm restrictions for farmers and orchardists in outlying areas.
"In Rutland and toward Enterprise Way there was a fairly good population of domestic rabbits that would have probably been readily available. And I think in the past, a lot of the problem animals were removed by farmers in the outlying areas before they got to town. Freak accidents with vehicles is the only thing checking their population right now," says the conservation officer.
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