Staff proposes ban on wildlife feeding (Sept. 14)

Development and Infrastructure Committee Meeting

Date: September 14, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: Council Chambers, Level 2, City Hall

CoyoteCity staff are recommending that council amend the city’s Animal Control bylaw to prohibit feeding of wildlife in public parks, except in a designated area, as one way to control the coyote population. An example of a designated area for a specific purpose or use could be the Trumpeter Swans overwintering grounds in Lasalle Park.

Staff considered an amendment to the Property Standards by-law and determined it would not be feasible as this by-law addresses animal feed storage rather than the feeding of animals.

Council will consider the recommendation at the D&I meeting Monday Sept. 14. Read the staff report, Item #3 on the D&I Sept. 14 Agenda. You can also register as a delegation to speak at the meeting.

Research indicates that coyotes are attracted by wildlife feeding and typically hunt and eat smaller wild animals. At a recent town hall, staff from Coyote Watch Canada advised that the number one driver for the presence of coyotes and increased human confrontations is the availability of food. This includes overflowing garbage bins, picnic remnants and scattered birdseed.

Coyote Watch Canada has been working with staff to investigate why coyotes are more prevalent in some areas and sometimes have bold interactions with their human neighbours. They have also assisted the city in developing management strategies. Steps taken to date include: enforcing Lot Maintenance and Property Standards By-Laws to reduce the presence of potential food sources or den locations on private property; warning signs in areas, such as parks, that have seen an increase in coyote sightings; online reporting of coyotes through See Click Fix (more than 500 sightings and 98 phone calls logged); removal of a sick or injured coyote to a rehabilitation centre; vigilant cleaning of waste containers at city parks; advising residents to put out garbage and compost containers only on the morning of garbage day, not the night before, and to ensure they are tightly closed to prevent scavenging.

Residents have asked if coyotes can be trapped, relocated or even culled. Under the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, it is illegal to trap and relocate any wild animal beyond the immediate area in which it was captured. The MNRF also states that culling coyotes is not an effective means of reducing a coyote population, as other coyotes typically will take their place. Research suggests that when aggressively controlled (e.g. through culling), coyotes can increase their reproductive rate by breeding at a younger age and having larger litters with a higher survival rate among the young. This allows coyote populations to quickly bounce back even when as much as 70 percent of the coyote population is removed.

Residents are advised to call 911 if they feel threatened.

The following guiding principles are incorporated into staff’s recommended coyote management approach:

  1. Human safety is the priority in managing human-coyote interactions.

  2. Coyotes serve an important role in ecosystems by helping to control the populations of other species, such as rodents and other urban mammals.

  3. Preventive practices can minimize potential interactions with coyotes, such as removal of available food, habitat modification and responding appropriately when interacting with wildlife.

  4. Solutions for coyote conflicts must address both problematic coyote behaviors (such as aggression towards people and attacks on pets) and problematic human behaviors (such as intentionally or unintentionally feeding coyotes and letting pets outside unattended).

  5. Culling programs are ineffective for reducing coyote population sizes or preventing human-coyote conflicts.

  6. Community-wide programs that involve residents are key to successful coyote management programs.

Staff are developing a series of videos on coyotes in urban areas, the first on how to wildlife proof your home and property.

My Take:

Based on what we have learned about coyotes through staff’s research and public consultation – including what works and doesn’t to control their population – it appears the ban on wildlife feeding in public parks will assist in keeping the population low. I’m pleased that there can be exceptions, for example the Trumpeter Swan feeding at LaSalle Park.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

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  1. I also think it would be valuable to educate and ask people not to feed wild life in their own yards. While watching birds feed can be entertaining, bird feeders often attract rats, mice, raccoons and skunks. These animals attract coyotes to our neighbourhoods. I would suggest planting flowers that attract birds would be a better solution.

    • It’s not that the people who own boats and belong to a private club don’t matter it’s more that you are not the only people who are entitled to use a PUBLIC park…the feeding is in winter months…I was just at LaSalle Park Waterfront and very little waterfowl was to be seen and I didn’t see one Swan….the Swan migrates north in fall/winter so they are returning home not staying, they leave in spring so they are true to their particular migration.

  2. Point 5 is not entirely accurate. Coyotes in areas that they have been culled in are much less likely to even be seen let alone encounter a human-coyote conflict…based on personal experience.

    I also doubt that the proposed plan will cut back on missing pets.

  3. Feeding the swans continues to be an annoyance to me. It not only feeds the swans but the geese. The area is posted “don’t feed wildlife” but no one enforces it. Meanwhile migratory birds stay here when they should leave. Instead huge amounts of excrement pollutes the land and the water creating an unfriendly environment. Let these birds do what they were once programmed to do… feed themselves or leave.

    Will you actually enforce the ban on feeding coyotes? If yes, then why not do the same with respect to the wildlife at LaSalle? Is it that people who enjoy the marina don’t matter?

What's your take?

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