High number of coyote attacks prompts new approach in Burlington
Published May 12, 2023 at 1:54 pm
Burlington is beefing up its team of animal control officers in the wake of several coyote attacks last year.
The City has hired two more officers, a wildlife expert and a veterinarian in the process which will also see signs posted in areas where coyotes are commonly sited.
The moves come in response to seven coyote attacks that took place over warm weather months in 2022.
In one instance a woman was sleeping in her lawn chair when she was awoken by the pain of a coyote biting her on the hip. In a similar incident, a woman was resting in her yard when a coyote ran up and bit her on the knee. A young child also received a coyote bite on the neck.
The unprovoked attacks surprised officials.
“They caught us off guard and it affected our community in an impactful way,” said Nick Anastasopoulos, Burlington’s Chief Building Officer and Director of Bylaw at a recent City committee meeting. “(We didn’t know) why this was happening because it never happened before.”
Burlington will now have an 11-person department in Animal Services that will be involved in the development of educational programs, proactively tracking coyote movement, and enforcing property standards in terms of coyote habitats.
Most importantly, Burlington says it will now be able to mobilize staff quickly when an incident occurs to track the animal and curb future attacks.
“We now have the specialists to rapidly respond to wildlife issues,” said Adam Palmieri, the City’s Supervisor of Animal Services. “From a public safety standpoint, we can mobilize in a matter of minutes.”
Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns expressed concern about coyotes wandering onto school property when children are outside playing but was told for the most part, coyotes will wait until the children are gone before coming out to look for discarded food items.
Still, Anastasopoulos said it is up to school officials to determine if students should be kept inside if they fear a threat. He added the City has been in discussions with schools that are vulnerable to teach children not to leave food or wrappers outside and instead dispose of waste inside the building.
City Manager Tim Commisso said Animal Control has learned a lot about coyotes within the last year since the attacks, especially through dealing with officials from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Commisso added that just like resources such as the fire department, police and ambulance, coyote management has become a matter of response capability and that Burlington is now looking at the issue as a protective service.
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