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Here's what to do if you encounter a coyote

York Region Public Health is providing tips after three Vaughan residents were bitten near Pheasant Hollow Park
Stock photo

York Region Public Health has recently received three reports of people being bitten by a coyote in the City of Vaughan. The people who were bitten are recovering at home and are receiving post-exposure prophylaxis (rabies vaccine).

All three instances took place near Pheasant Hollow Park, located in the vicinity of Rutherford Road between Dufferin Street and Keele Street between Thursday, Oct. 15 and Saturday, Oct. 17. There have also been sightings in Agostino Park. The City of Vaughan Animal Control has been notified and is investigating.

Residents are reminded to avoid approaching, feeding or coming into contact with wildlife as some animals, such as bats, coyotes, foxes, skunks and raccoons, may be infected with the rabies virus. The rabies virus affects the central nervous system of warm-blooded mammals, including humans, and is transmitted through a bite, lick or scratch from an infected animal. Once clinical signs of rabies appear in a human, the disease is usually always fatal. A post-exposure vaccine is available for people who come into contact with a rabid animal. People should also ensure their dogs and cats receive their rabies vaccinations.

Residents should follow these practical steps that will help to minimize negative encounters with coyotes or other wild animals:
    •    Never feed a coyote or any wild animal
    •    Do not feed domestic pets outside
    •    Keep dogs on a leash and cats indoors or supervised while outside

Remember, if you encounter a coyote, keep your distance and keep pets on a leash. If the coyote is aggressive:
    •    Stop. Pick up small children and pets
    •    Shout loudly, wave your arms high in the air or use whistles
    •    Back away slowly while remaining calm
    •    Never run or turn your back on a coyote

If you see an aggressive, sick or injured coyote you feel may pose an immediate danger to public safety, call your municipality’s Animal Control Services or 911 immediately. If you have been bitten, scratched or had contact with an animal, immediately wash the wound with soap and water for a minimum of 15 minutes, seek medical attention and report the incident to York Region Public Health at 1-800-361-5653.

More information on preventing and managing conflicts with coyotes, including making your property uninviting for coyotes, preventing conflicts with dogs and protecting wildlife, is available online.