‘They are not looking to play’: Coyote sightings spike around Winnipeg

Coyotes have been spotted in all areas of Winnipeg: on a south-side golf course, on the frozen Seine river and on the northern edge of the city.

While wildlife sightings are common, many are wondering if the number of coyotes venturing inside city limits is higher than usual.

The Province of Manitoba said Wednesday there were 47 coyote sightings in 2017.  There have already been 79 sightings so far this year.

But, that doesn’t mean there are actually more coyotes.

The province says there could be many factors causing the increase in calls.

“It could be increased public awareness about coyotes, or multiple people reporting the same animal,” a spokesperson for Sustainable Development said.

The Winnipeg Humane Society said the numbers can be deceiving.

“We haven’t had an increase in the number of attacks,” said Javier Schwersensky, Humane Society CEO.

He suggests people need to co-exist with coyotes and not draw them further into the city.

“While they are predators, I think their reputation is a bit overblown. They’re either protecting their territory or are looking for food.”

Coyotes may seem similar to dogs, but Pembina Veterinary Hospital’s Dr. Erika Anseeuw says they’re far more dangerous.

“Coyotes are looking for food. They’re not looking to play, that’s their job — they’re looking for any opportunity they can.”

Anseeuw said pet owners who let their animals roam unattended or walk them off-leash take unnecessary risks.

“If [coyotes] become accustomed to dogs and cats in the area, that could result in a bite or even having it taken away,” she said, meaning the pet would become a meal. “Sometimes coyotes will act playful and get the dog to approach and then there’s other coyotes in the background waiting to attack.”

She also said a pet could be harmed even without coming into direct contact with a coyote.

“Coyotes in the environment can also spread other diseases to your pets, such as round worms or cycoptic mange if the dog’s been rolling around where the coyote has been, or is checking out the feces.”

Both Veterinarians and the humane society suggest keeping dogs on leashes and not walking them at night.

They also recommend pet owners ensure their animals are up-to-date with their vaccinations, in case they encounter a coyote.

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