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Communities With Coyotes Matter

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We lost a beautiful and sentient member in one of our communities yesterday. A Coyote life was taken on the streets of Toronto in a desperate but misinformed attempt by law enforcement to keep the public safe.

Chasing a coyote, cornering it and then firing a gun is not what I would consider neither appropriate nor the safest response to the presence of a single coyote walking down the street. A strong dose of hazing would have sent an “alpha kind of message” to the coyote, that retreating to greener spaces was in short order. Yelling and waving arms and puffing up bullet proof vested chests would have also done the trick. I have been hazing coyotes for two decades, all one hundred and twenty eight pounds of me…And it works. It is empowering for people, it reshapes coyote behaviour and it saves coyote lives.

How can the men and women that uphold peace and safety on the streets practice non-lethal responses to coyotes (and other wildlife) when they are not taught anything else but violence? Where are the necessary conflict resolution tools such as education and safety awareness? Shooting a lone coyote is just not the kind of assistance this community needed. I do consider that it was a decision made by the officer with good intentions and with limited or non-existent coyote protocol experience.

We didn’t just loose a coyote life yesterday, we lost an opportunity. Bright chances to connect with wildlife are rare times when we can promote compassion. Rest assured folks, coyotes live in Toronto and this opportunity will come around again….and again and again. It is my aspiration that the outcome will be so fundamentally different. The coyote will live. People will learn. Community members coexist.

We all have a responsibility, in a spiritual sort of way, to create communities where our children learn how to become kind citizens. Is this sort of violence against nature becoming the norm? I sure hope not. Our children are watching and learning from the adults in their world.

Coyote silhouettes in the Toronto sky line are not a recent phenomenon. Coyotes have been navigating the streets and lush ravine corridors for the most part undetected for many years. We know better, or we should know better by now, the nuances of coyote living. Humans’ feeding wildlife and stray cats, over flowing bird feeders, and the constant mishandling of our waste proves to be a reliable driver for coyotes venturing into our daily existence. Cabbagetown can change the outcome for the next coyote by simply wildlife proofing their living spaces.

I can imagine such a different outcome for yesterday’s coyote shooting, can you? Perhaps it would go down like this…

“Officer reaches into his vest, pulls out a coyote education pamphlet…Officer has a brief discussion with homeowner about food attractants and how to safely coexist with North America’s Song Dogs…Resident thanks officer for the help and says sheepishly “I really do love the coyotes…I will stop feeding them- promise!” Peaceful intervention works with people and it works with wildlife too.

Compassionate wildlife communities need a garden of possibilities created out of tenderness, wildlife training, tolerance, patience and education. We work on these attributes daily in the City of Niagara Falls. Our Living with Coyotes program is working with the help of so many ordinary people, doing extraordinary things that help our coyotes stay wild, healthy and alive.

The power of compassion towards each other and nature is omnipotent. Peaceful coexistence is possible with the appropriate tools for education and prevention in place. Please Toronto; embrace a compassionate wildlife community plan. Stop killing your precious wildlife…Communities with Coyotes matter.

Copyright Photo compassionately gifted by ~ Ann Brokelman

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