GUNTER: Weighted tennis balls no solution to aggressive coyotes in city


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What’s the city’s solution to aggressive coyotes attacking pets and humans in our neighborhoods?

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Tennis balls.

I’m serious. Coyote confrontations with humans are up 11 per cent this year and their population has increased by two-thirds in the past two years.

Many pets have been injured or killed. The wild canines are reportedly coming closer and closer to humans, too.

And the city’s advice is to throw tennis balls at them as they approach, snarling, teeth bared.

In the spirit of useless helpfulness, the city will even provide free tennis balls filled with sand (and perhaps teach you a few insults in coyotes that you can hurl, as well).

The theory is the weighted balls will sting more, if you manage to hit a coyote from a distance of five meters or more.

(If you’re that accurate, call me. I know a guy who knows a guy who can put you in touch with a major league baseball pitching scout.)

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But the situation has gone way beyond throwing fuzzy balls and hoping to hit one of the creatures, then also hoping the coyote is deterred from approaching humans in the future by the force of the blow.

In June, a man in the Terwillegar area reported being attacked by a pack of five coyotes while in a city park walking his dog. At first, he and his dog were approached by a lone coyote that he tried to fend off by yelling and waving his arms.

When that strategy failed, four additional coyotes surrounded him. Fortunately, the man and his dog escaped with minor injuries.

At the time, the city reassured everyone this coyote behavior was “highly unusual.” But last week, a local woman, Shannon Shea (who also happens to be a personal friend), was set upon by four coyotes in the center of the city, very near the Indigenous Art Park in Queen Elizabeth Park.

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That attack followed the same pattern as the June one. A lone coyote approached first (very typical behavior for a hunting pack). When Shea yelled and gestured for the animal to leave, it kept advancing and was soon joined by three more.

One even circled behind her, raised up and shoved her in the back.

Fortunately, Shea escaped up a nearby set of stairs to Saskatchewan Drive, but the pack followed all the way to the top of the bank.

The “highly unusual” behavior is now becoming a habit. The tennis balls aren’t working (as if they ever could).

It’s not hard to imagine this increasing boldness – this utter lack of fear of humans – could lead someday soon to coyotes attacking a small child. Such behavior is not unknown in other locations.

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This is yet another example of city staff overthinking a problem. What to do about the potential danger of coyotes while at the same time respecting their rights? Coyotes are people, too, after all.

The city came up with the tennis ball scheme because it didn’t want to hurt the little dears, and planners wanted to show their concern for the environment and their respect for wildlife.

The city won’t spray for mosquitoes. It won’t kill dandelions. It doesn’t like to keep parks and medians neatly trimmed. It can’t figure out how to clear snow from streets effectively in winter. And its answer to vicious coyotes is tennis balls.

Is there no one under the pyramids who has any practical sense anymore? This is a city, not some experimental ecolab.

Cull the coyotes. There are too many of them competing for natural food sources, so now they are looking at pets as convenient dinners. Trap them. The city has a map of their dens. Then euthanize some to control their population.

lgunter@postmedia.com

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