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Letter To The Editor: Consider A Coexistence Program For Your Community

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Re: LaSalle dog walkers alarmed by coyote attacks, by Brian Cross, March 30.

There may be something wrong in LaSalle but it is not with the wildlife.

Coyote Watch Canada, along with the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, is strongly recommending the residents of LaSalle and outlying areas to incorporate a coexistence program into their communities.

The article in The Windsor Star blog revealed to us evidence of an ecological problem in LaSalle. Our first clue is the alteration of the behaviour of area wildlife. Eastern coyotes are typically shy, aloof animals that avoid people and domestic animals. A change in their behaviour signals a change to their environment. In every case of conflict, behavioural change or increased sightings that CWC has investigated, the root cause has been intentional or unintentional feeding of wildlife.

Coyotes and other wildlife have proximity tolerance levels that range based on their experiences. While curious animals, coyotes prefer keeping their distance from unfamiliar sounds, creatures or environments. However, when being fed by humans, that proximity tolerance diminishes, making them more comfortable approaching people and domestic animals. This can be reversed through a coexistence platform such as the one instituted in the city of Niagara Falls and being examined by other municipalities such as Whitby, Sarnia and Toronto.

A coexistence platform has four cornerstones: education, investigation, enforcement and prevention. By removing the food source — be it deadstock, rodents (from bird feeders), fallen fruits or direct feeding — accompanied by ongoing education, enforcement and preventive measures (such as hazing), conflict can be ended peacefully.

It is also unfortunate that lethal action is often seen as a first solution, when history has shown it to be the least effective means of eliminating conflict. Despite over 400 years of persecution, coyotes remain a steadfast part of our ecosystems. Additionally, science has shown that when persecuted, coyotes produce higher litter populations.[/one_second]

We urge the municipal leaders and community members of LaSalle to consider the coexistence option. We stand ready to assist in any way possible.

Wildlife Proofing is an easy and effective way to minimize attractants. Birds, small mammals, domestic pets and predatory birds are potential visitors to our backyard feeders. Overflowing feeders become welcome mats for coyotes too!

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