Man stares down coyote in Riverdale Park
A coyote peers down from a backyard of the Neville Park ravine in the Beach neighborhood in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008. (Silvio Santos / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, July 19, 2012 7:32AM EDT
TORONTO -- A Toronto man who recently came face-to-face with a coyote in a city park says standing his ground helped ward off a confrontation with the canine.
Bruce Walsh says he was practising yoga in Riverdale Park last Wednesday when a large coyote charged at him three times.
The publishing consultant says his Outward Bound training prepared him for what to do next.
He says he knew running away was a bad idea because it would have given the coyote a reason to chase him so he instead stood his ground, yelled, waved and tried to scare the animal away.
Brent Patterson, a research scientist and coyote expert with Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources, says Walsh reacted properly.
He also says coyotes generally live alongside people without making their presence known and that the coyote who confronted Walsh was exhibiting odd behaviour.
According to Patterson, running away from an aggressive coyote is a bad idea.
"It's pointless," he said, because it's impossible to outrun the animal.
Patterson has been studying coyotes for about 20 years, and said it's important to make the coyotes "realize you're a person" by appearing as large as possible.
Walsh said he thought the coyote he encountered must have weighed about 70 pounds.
"He's big, and he's in the city, and he's after people," said Walsh, who is originally from Nova Scotia but has lived in Toronto for eight years.
"I've never heard of coyotes being in Toronto, ever. We talk about the raccoons and the squirrels, but we don't talk about the coyotes."
According to the city's website, however, coyote sightings aren't uncommon in Toronto.
The city stresses that coyotes are generally not confrontational, but they do feel at home in Toronto's parks and ravines.
Toronto police suggest that anyone who experiences a similar animal encounter report it to authorities.
But there's no need to panic about the presence of coyotes, said Patterson.
Coyote-human relations should be fine as long as people avoid leaving food morsels behind in parks, which tempt the animals "to give up their wildness," he said.
Patterson added that the most common reason for coyotes to behave strangely is familiarity with humans and being used to being fed by them.