Coyote mating season is underway in the Okanagan

Coyotes on the prowl

Cindy White

Even before the snow has all melted away, we’re seeing and hearing signs of spring.

Coyotes are becoming more active in the Okanagan, as mating season gets underway.

“So it’s breeding season right now and coyotes are quite active in many communities, especially in the Interior, which is prime habitat for coyotes. So, it’s a really important time of year to keep your pets on a leash and any young livestock, bring them into the barn at night. Keep any small livestock that you have behind fencing for sure,” said Vanessa Isnardy, WildSafeBC Program Manager.

Coyotes are more on-edge during mating season, so keep your distance, and also try to avoid their dens over the spring months, as they raise their young.

“Sometimes they’ll do what we call ‘escorting behaviour’ where they’ll follow you. It’s not because they’re interested in preying on you or your pet, but they just want to make sure that you leave the area,” explained Isnardy.

In the wake of the aggressive coyote problem in Vancouver’s Stanley Park last year, it’s especially important to make sure you’re not feeding the animals, even just by leaving out pet food or garbage.

“Well, that is really critical. We find that with any wildlife it’s really important not to feed wildlife because it leads to escalating behaviour which we call food conditioning, where they start to expect handouts from people. Or they’re expecting to find food near people, and that’s when things escalate.”

She says even deer should not be fed because that encourages them to linger in communities in larger numbers, attracting predators, like cougars.

On Sunday evening, a man out walking his large dog at Mission Creek Regional Park, said a cougar lunged at the pet that was on a leash, but he managed to scare it away.

Isnardy said usually in such encounters when a cougar attempts to go after a pet, it’s a juvenile cat that has been pushed into a less suitable habit.

She encourages anyone who encounters aggressive wildlife to report it to the WildSafeBC RAPP line (1-877-952-7277), and they will pass the information on to conservation officers.

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