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Coyotes on Hamilton Mountain- article

March 2nd, 2006, 05:32 PM
The guy in this article lives down the street from me. Glad to know that my neighbors are aware of the problem as well.

Coyote fears on the Mountain

Fred Bohrer takes Little Buddy for a walk near their West 5th home. He's heard coyotes for many years and now sees them.

Gary Yokoyama, the Hamilton Spectator
A coyote makes its presence known.
By Paul Wilson
The Hamilton Spectator
More articles by this columnist
(Mar 1, 2006)
When he's up north, Fred Bohrer likes to listen to the call of the loon. At home in Hamilton, he hears the coyotes howl.
Bohrer lives on West 5th Street near Rymal Road. Out his front door are Zellers and Fortinos. Out his back door is one of the last pieces of wilderness on Hamilton Mountain, about 20 bushy hectares of undeveloped city parkland.
It's home to the coyote. No saying how many in there, but they can work up a mournful chorus. This being the city, sometimes they'll sing along to car horns and sirens. We don't have wolves here, so the coyote is our top predator.
A hundred years ago, you wouldn't see one much east of Manitoba, but the coyote is a smart creature and is now found right across Canada.
He's not a big animal, maybe 20 kg, but thick fur makes him look beefier.
He can move fast, up to 65 km/h, fast enough to chase down a jackrabbit. Other favourite foods include gophers, mice, rats, sheep, calves, birds, eggs, snakes, turtles, fish, fruit, plants and roadkill.
And on occasion, a juicy city cat or dog. And that's what's worrying Fred Bohrer right now.
He's lived on West 5th for 17 years. He's heard the coyotes for most of that time, but now he's seeing them, too.
This winter, he's spotted them along his back property line and even in around the big cedar in his back yard.
Bohrer is 45, a steelworker and a bachelor. He likes the company of a good dog. That would be one-year-old husky L.B. or Little Buddy.
L.B. needs lots of exercise, and Bohrer takes him for a 45-minute walk at about 3:15 a.m., which, by the way, is a great time for hearing coyotes yip and howl.
In the back yard, L.B. gets tied to a long line, but Bohrer wonders if that's safe anymore.
"Everyone says, 'You've got nothing to worry about. They just go for small dogs and cats.'"
Bohrer takes little comfort in that, so he contacted Hamilton Animal Control. But as manager Calum Burnett explains, "We're not in the business of managing wildlife.
"If a coyote bit someone, we might have to look at some alternatives. But the Ministry of Natural Resources tells us coyotes don't attack people."
Besides, Animal Control uses only live traps. Burnett says it's just about impossible to trap a coyote in one of those. If they did, they would then be required to move it no more than one kilometre from where it was caught.
As coyotes cover a range of 10 to 15 kilometres, that wouldn't help much.
And if a coyote was to be put down, it could not be done with a .22. There's no shooting inside city limits.
Fred Bohrer was referred to the MNR. Art Timmerman, biologist at the Guelph office, says they get a steady run of coyote calls. "Some people are worried. They say, 'Should I let my kids out of the house?'"
Again, there's no record at all of coyotes attacking people in Ontario. Timmerman tells people not to leave food out but says coyotes do come with the territory. "If you want to live out on the edge of town, this is what you get, like mosquitoes."
The MNR can link callers to a licensed trapper. That's how Gary Fordham ended up at Fred Bohrer's door. Fordham would trap coyotes for him, $100 each. But Bohrer thinks that because the animals are living on city land, the city should pay the fee. The city doesn't agree, so there's no trapping taking place.
But Fordham has caught five coyotes this winter -- three around Brantford and two in rural Ancaster.
He digs a hole, puts some muskrat carcass in it, splashes a little sex scent about and sets out a trap.
Tony and Marie Scibetta have a little farm on Rymal Road near West 5th. Years ago, they lost seven sheep to coyotes.
They don't have animals these days, but more coyotes could now be helpful because the Scibettas have a big problem with rabbits.
They chew the bark on the apple trees. Once a tree has been chewed all the way around, it dies. Last year, the couple lost 140 trees.
More coyotes would mean fewer rabbits.
The coyotes have just finished mating. New pups, five to seven to a litter, arrive late next month.
StreetBeat appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

March 2nd, 2006, 05:35 PM
I emailed this letter to the columnist:


I was reading the article written (March 1/06) and felt the need to respond... I too live on Rymal Rd. between West 5th & Garth St. For years we have indeed heard coyote howls and yips, now the sightings are ever increasing.

One night I caught our dog "playing" with what appeared to be a lone coyote. I have read in numerous articles that in all likelihood... if your dog is "playing" with a coyote, you can bet the rest of the pack is hiding or lurking in the bushes, waiting for their prey. A few weeks ago our dog came inside with a huge bleeding gash in his rear end.... we have no doubt he was bitten by a coyote. He actually should have gotten stitches, but the vet didn't really want to stitch it and risk keeping any infection trapped inside. What makes us so sure that his injury was caused by a coyote is that one night I witnessed it with my own eyes, as I was outside with him when he was attacked. 4 or 5 coyotes surrounded him and took turns running up at him from behind.

Oh, and by the way, Hercules is a 100 lb rotti/shepherd.

My screams did NOT scare them off. I no longer take him out back to do his business after dark, we go out front. I very much fear for all small dogs and cats in the area. Once the nicer weather comes, there'll be many people enjoying the outdoors. I wonder how safe we really are. These coyotes are not afraid of my dog (I believe they are fighting him for territory). They didn't really seem too concerned about my presence either. They may have kept their distance from me, but they made no attempt to leave. The other thing that I found alarming was their size..... some of them didn't seem to be much smaller than our dog (who is 5 feet tall standing on 2 legs).

I wanted to thank you for writing this article. I have been feeling like I should warn my neighbors. It's also frustrating for me when people tell me that there are no coyotes in Hamilton, I just have 'a few stray dogs who have formed a pack.'

I had a long conversation with Animal Control and it seems pretty hopeless. They too explained to me the relocation rule (that it has to be within 1km) and they kindly reminded me of the no shooting rule. I actually don't want to see any coyotes get hurt... I just want to feel safe in my own backyard

doggy lover
March 3rd, 2006, 02:30 PM
I see your still having problems, how is your dog doing now. There were coyotes I High Park a few years ago I remember reading about them going after small dogs there. I live in Eastern Scarborough and have seen them in school yards.

March 3rd, 2006, 08:50 PM
It's nice to be validated in the local paper like that! How is Hercules doing? Much better I hope.

March 3rd, 2006, 09:32 PM
I work in Ajax, Ont - not the country. We found a deer killed yesterday morning, it was obvious that the coyotes did it. This is golf course surrounded by houses too.

Valentin got out of the yard into the ravine the other morning. I was terrified until we found him. Coyotes were spotted in that ravine last winter.

March 4th, 2006, 07:59 AM
I am going to have a talk to my son,he lives on the Hamilton mountain.AlWAYS lets his 2 dogs out in the backyard on their own,a JRT and an old Sheltie,perfect for hungry Coyotes with pups.:sad:

March 5th, 2006, 08:07 PM
Hi all, thanks for your concern for Herc! He is fine, in truth I haven't let him out back unattended at all, I always take him out front. My husband is braver than me, and he will take him out back, but he is always right there with him. A few nights ago we heard them loud and clear at about 9:30 at night but haven't seen them for a couple weeks. I just so badly want to let that gentleman in the article know "NO! Your dog is NOT safe tied up outside alone!!" I cringe when I think... what if we had ever left Herc tied on out there, unsupervised... I truly wonder if we'd still have him. I believe at the very least he would have been more badly injured if they had ganged up on him and he couldn't get away.

March 7th, 2006, 11:27 AM
I'm glad Herc's feeling better!

This is one of the reason I can't stress enough of how important it is to not let dogs run loose (outside dog parks and back yards, of course), and why cats should be kept inside. I hate when people with loose dogs just shrug whenever I tell them they're hiking in coyote/bobcat (seen them too) territory :mad: If a wild animal attacked the dog, I know the stupid owner would blame the deer/coyote/fox/bobcat, etc.

I just so badly want to let that gentleman in the article know "NO! Your dog is NOT safe tied up outside alone!!"
Ugh, same! Not just becuase of the coyotes, but there's so many undesirables around that wouldn't think twice of harming an unattended dog.