In a surreal move aimed at con trolling nuisance coyotes, city council has amended the Municipal Code and local bylaws to allow for the discharge of firearms within city limits. The amendment allows a contracted agent of the city to do the dirty deed. The city's medical officer of health had asked for the amendment as an interim measure until a harmonized firearms code can be developed. "The use of a firearm is the only effective and safe method if it is determined that a coyote must be removed," former medical officer of health Sheela Basrur writes in her report. The report notes that coyotes "reside in all parts of the city." A single coyote behaving strangely in G. Ross Lord Park this past summer seems to have prompted the move. Wildlife advocates are livid.
"There are thousands and thousands of dog bites a year," says Nathalie Karvonen, executive director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre. "This is being blown out of proportion."
Toronto police already have the authority to shoot coyotes, and they're sometimes called into city parks to perform mercy killings of sick deer or other animals.
Animal Alliance executive director Liz White says there are safety concerns to consider.
"What are you going to do, discharge a gun in a public park? It's preposterous. What we should be doing is encouraging a diversity of wildlife in this city and learning how to live with it."
Of more danger to coyotes may be a worldwide epidemic of mange that Karvonen says has already decimated Toronto's coyote population. She says the centre is seeing only three or four coyotes a year.