Burlington activates ‘crisis management team’ following six recent unprovoked coyote attacks

The City of Burlington has launched a “crisis management team” following six recent unprovoked coyote attacks against area residents.

The latest incident happened Saturday at a retirement home on New Street in the Roseland area.

In a news release, the city said a woman was relaxing on a chair on her front patio at about 8:20 a.m. when she “awoke to the pain of the coyote biting her in the hip area.”

The city said the wild animal, which they described as a smaller sandy coloured coyote, was startled when the woman woke up, but tried approaching her again.

The victim was able to scare the coyote away. It ran across New Street into a neighbourhood, the city said.

An employee at home saw what happened and ran out to check on the resident, who was taken to hospital by ambulance.

Animal Services staff are currently patrolling the area to locate this coyote and its den. They are also working with a Certified Wildlife Control Professional to “eliminate” it, the City of Burlington said.

“I join all of my colleagues on council in expressing our heartfelt distress to the resident attacked (Saturday) morning. We want to assure residents we’re taking immediate actions to protect our community, including convening a crisis team and a special council meeting this week to implement our action plan,” said Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, who assured “regular updates to the community as we deal with this urgent situation.”

In the meantime, anyone who is attacked by a coyote is advised to seek immediate medical attention and report the incident to Halton Region Health Department and Burlington Animal Services at [email protected] or 905-335-3030.

“These attacks are uncharacteristic of coyotes and this cluster of attacks on humans are the first reported in Burlington,” said the city, which is also urging residents to continue to be vigilant and report any coyote sightings to them.

On Saturday, Meed Ward spoke with MP Graydon Smith, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, about this ongoing situation.

The city, in a Sept. 10 release, said Smith “expressed sincere concern for the health and safety of our residents and is working with us to help address this serious risk to our community from these unprecedented and unprovoked attacks.”

The city said staff are also currently in “active discussions” with coyote wildlife management experts at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to “collaborate on solutions for the Burlington community.”

The afternoon of Sept. 14, they intend to present a report for approval to city council with coyote management recommendations. The matter will be tabled earlier that morning when the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee meets.

Back in 2015, Burlington City Council approved a Coyote Response Strategy, which has guidelines on preventing and managing conflicts with coyotes, especially when a person is attacked by one.

“Municipalities are responsible for taking appropriate actions to manage resident coyote sightings, encounters and attacks and take appropriate action,” the city said.

Late last month, a coyote believed to be responsible for three recent unprovoked attacks against humans in south central Burlington was put down. One of the victims was a two-and-a-half-year-old boy. According to the city, the toddler was on his backyard deck when a coyote grabbed him by the neck and tried to drag him away.

The city said the animal in question was identified by “its victims” and tracked down with the help of Animal Services staff. The city, in a previous news release, said it employed the “expertise of a certified wildlife control professional” to “eliminate” the animal.

Since late last month, city staff have been monitoring the area and said they’ve located “several neglected properties in the area that could be offering ideal denning areas for this pack of aggressive coyotes.”

Bylaw Officers are being dispatched and have made it a priority to ensure these properties meet bylaw requirements so that the opportunity for coyotes to den on these sites is removed.

“As City Manager, I can assure all residents, that protecting the community from these attacks is our absolute highest priority. We will be directing all available City resources including Bylaw enforcement, Animal Services and external wildlife professionals, to respond to this crisis including investigating and rectifying coyote feeding inquiries and dealing with overgrown derelict building sites that are contributing to this situation,” said City Manager Tim Commisso.

The City of Burlington even offered coyote whistles to residents in an effort to address the recent unprovoked attacks on humans.

People should note that coyotes are native to North America and live in both rural and urban settings, which are especially attractive to them as mice, rats, and garbage are readily found in residential areas.

Hand or ground feeding wildlife on private or public property is prohibited under the City of Burlington’s Lot Maintenance Bylaw and could be subject to a $300 fine.

Concerns about people feeding wildlife can be reported to Animal Control. The service can also assist residents by doing an audit of resident’s yard for coyote attractants.