The Nature Conservancy of Canada is saying coyote and wildlife sightings are rising in Nova Scotia — partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic's impacts.
“More people are seeing coyotes, and they’ve brought it to our attention,” Andrew Holland, spokesperson for the conservation organization, said. “So, what we wanted to do was issue some tips to help people keep themselves and their pets safe.
“We’re spending more time around our homes and neighbourhoods during COVID, our schedules aren’t as busy as they used to be in terms of travelling and going places — just we’re hanging out more around our homes and stuff, so we’re noticing that there’s coyotes and other wildlife.”
One thing Holland said people can do to prevent encounters is ensuring garbage — particularly compost and pet food — isn’t left outside. Garbage containers should also be sealed and locked
“Coyotes are coming out looking for food; they have their breeding period in February and March,” he told NEWS 95.7 fill-in host, Todd Veinotte. “Usually, they stick around in their dens, but they can come close to your home.”
Holland also said people should close off any gaps in their porch, shed or deck to prevent wildlife from seeking shelter in those spaces.
“Finally, I would just encourage people to please keep your household pets indoors,” he said. “Feed them indoors; keep them indoors. Your cats and your dogs — don’t leave them unattended or unprotected outside in your yard.”
Typically, coyotes are shy and prefer avoiding contact with humans.
But if they’re protecting a food source or are around their dens, they’ll more likely be protective.
While some may say coyotes aren't native to Nova Scotia, Holland said encounters with wildlife — including coyotes — are increasingly common as new subdivisions and communities are developed in previously wooded areas.
Previously, Holland worked with New Brunswick’s natural resources department. He said he’d have “regular calls” from people seeing coyotes in usually new subdivisions.
Coyote attacks are rare, but if someone encounters one, they shouldn't be alarmed and should remain cautious.
Moreover, it's important not to run away: coyotes can sprint up to 70km/h. Instead, anyone who comes into contact with a coyote should slowly back away.
Blowing a whistle or making loud noises to appear as a larger threat are good tactics to avoid conflict.
People can also throw rocks and sticks in the coyote's direction so that it'll leave.