Coyote sightings, fatal dog attacks up in Toronto this year

A coyote attack earlier this week in Scarborough left one dog with serious injuries.

Dorothy Kwan’s daughter Lily Kwan, 10, took their little Yorkshire Terrier Macy out for a walk and wound up being chased by a coyote. The dog attempted to fight off the coyote while protecting Lily, but was left with extensive injuries and underwent surgery.

“This is a walk she’s done many, many times,” Kwan said. “It’s extremely concerning, just prior to this incident I found out in a nearby park a coyote had approached a child and had bitten them.”

Toronto’s data on coyote attacks shows that as of July 21, coyotes have attacked 10 dogs, of which five have died. That’s up from nine attacks in 2020, one of which was fatal.

With the number of attacks already reaching the total number last year, many residents like Kwan have safety concerns in their own neighbourhoods.

Nature Conservancy of Canada spokesperson Andrew Holland said the pandemic has resulted in increased numbers of wildlife moving into urban areas.

“In the last 16 months, we’ve noticed a lot more wildlife in our communities,” Holland said. “It’s certainly not uncommon for coyotes to come out into urban areas to look for food sources.”

Scarborough Centre city councillor Michael Thompson says the incident with Kwan’s dog was “regrettable” and said the city encourages people to protect themselves from wild animals. 

He said signage warning people of coyotes is “something we’d have to look at.”

Across the Greater Toronto Area, more cities are also reporting increases.

In Mississauga, there have been 12 attacks as of July 22, up from 13 total in 2020. In Vaughan, there have been three as of July 22, up from seven total in 2020..

The city of Toronto says most interactions with coyotes are a result of a nearby food source. It warns residents not to feed coyotes and not to leave food, including pet food, outside.

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