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Expert says higher numbers likely due to people being at home more in pandemic
By George Mortimer
Photo Coyote sightings are up in Cape Breton. A biologist says it might be due to people being at home more often in the pandemic. Harry Collins Photography
Coyote sightings in parts of Cape Breton are up this year, and people have been reporting their concerns on social media.
The animals have been spotted in places around the eastern part of the island such Mira, Catalone and Albert Bridge.
Maureen Cameron-MacMillan, a biologist with Lands and Forestry, said the department’s Coxheath office outside Sydney has received 54 reports in the last year.
In the past they’ve had no more than 40 sightings per year.
“I think that’s skewed because more people are working from home, they’re looking out the window and seeing wildlife outside their houses,” Cameron-MacMillan said.
Cameron-MacMillan said this time of year is mating season for coyotes, which brings out more numbers.
Maureen Cameron-MacMillan is a Department of Lands and Forestry biologist who works in Cape Breton.
She said they are attracted to any food that may be left out.
“If you have feeders out for birds it’s a good idea to take them in at night, and if you feed outdoor pets, take that food inside,” Cameron-MacMillan said.
“Another trick is trim your trees and shrubs to reduce hiding places that are available for coyotes or prey such as squirrels or rabbits that might attract coyotes to your area.”
Cameron-MacMillan said the department does have advice for anyone who comes face to face with a coyote.
“We do have a good acronym for what you should do if you encounter a coyote, and we say BAM — so we want you to back away, act big and make noise.”
‘We just have to be smart about living in their world’
Heather Peters, who lives in the Mira Road area outside Sydney, said she’s had coyotes come through her yard many times, and she has a “healthy” mix of fear and respect for the animals.
“I protect my dogs, I don’t take them out at night near the woods, I keep them close to me, I keep them on a leash, I don’t leave food out,” Peters said.
“We have to be sensible about it. They’re wild animals, we live in a rural area, and we just have to be smart about living in their world.”
Cameron-MacMillan said the department would like to keep track of coyote sightings.