Learning how to co-exist with wildlife

Laurel Beechey, The World is a Stage

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A fellow Ontario wildlife rehabilitator sent me a link to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s Facebook page, ‘Having Trouble With Coyotes?’ where it states, “As a property owner, you can harass, capture, or kill coyotes that are causing problems, such as killing livestock, and are on your property. Or you can enlist an agent to do so on your behalf. To find out more, visit www.ontario.ca/page/harass-capture-or-kill-wild-animal-damaging-private-property.”

When I read it I was not pleased, as were most of those commenting on the page.

When I first tried the second link to learn more, it didn’t work. However, three hours later I could, so checked out their rules and regulations.

It is rather amazing that authorized wildlife custodians – who rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned and/or injured wildlife – volunteer under the MNRF. It’s an incongruous relationship, as the ministry does oversee our trees, water, land, wildlife, etc. but makes money by selling licenses or permits which allow people to cut the trees, buy the water, change the land and kill the wildlife.

There is not enough money to save or help the animals (and teach the public), which is why they allow volunteers to help the animals, all out of our own pockets.

When I started rehabbing in the early 1980s, the standard MNRF answer when asked what to do with orphaned or injured wildlife was, “Put it back where you found it and let nature take its course.”

Since 2000 when the ministry began to oversee rehabbers, we have continually asked them to please not say that as it causes a painful death of the animal, suffering until they die by being eaten or starved. Instead we asked them to give the link to their own list of wildlife rehabbers who could actually help.

Today, most of those on the MNRF phones have changed but I personally got the “let nature take its course” advice this summer.

The mindset of the coyote message above is no different. The title could have been, “Having trouble with coyotes? Learn how to co-exist with coyotes and other wildlife, deter them from your property, safely frighten them away, and what is legal if more insistent measures are required.”

The MNRF could put their meagre three tips on deterring nuisance wildlife first on the website.

The three coyote tips are the same as what rehabbers tell the public for virtually all animals, birds, etc. “Remove attractants (e.g. unsecure garbage bins, bird feed, fallen fruit); eliminate possible denning sites (e.g. openings under decks) and eliminate sources of drinking water.”

More importantly they could refer them to Coyote Watch Canada, which addresses concerns of the public, farmers, and municipalities, offers pamphlets and educational information, and does presentations. If you have a problem, a volunteer will assist you solving it without harming the animal.

There is more information on the site www.coyotewatchcanada.com to learn. For example, how to react and protect small pets when out for a walk in the bush or in your yard if coyotes live nearby. What do you do when you meet a coyote? Check the website as there is so much more information to help you and coyotes co-exist.

lbeechey@rogers.com

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