A 13-year-old Ottawa boy who alerted his neighbours to the presence of predatory coyotes in a local park is being applauded for his efforts.
In April, following several attacks on dogs in the neighbourhood, Aidan Brown posted a homemade warning near an entrance to Linton Park, near the Airport Parkway and Walkley Road.
The green space, which is just north of the leafy Via Rail corridor, was becoming a popular passageway for coyotes, and Brown knew dogs, and possibly people, could be at risk.
"Be mindful how far out you go and how far you let your pet off leash," read Brown's neatly designed notice.
Brown made audio recordings of the coyotes as they howled under the power lines behind his family's home. Then, when two battery-powered trail cameras turned up under the Christmas tree, he took his surveillance efforts to the next level.
Videos capture coyotes on the prowl
Within three days, the motion-triggered cameras' memory cards were filled with ghostly nighttime images of coyotes on the prowl.
"We thought we were going to get a lot of turkey and very little coyotes, but half of it is coyotes. We've had very good luck," the young naturalist said.
For example, five minutes before midnight on Jan. 17, one of his cameras captured four large, healthy coyotes loping through the frame, followed by an injured coyote hopping along gingerly on three legs.
"I thought it was going to be very rare," Brown said. "We got very lucky, and I'm very happy with the results so far."
Every few days, Brown treks out to his cameras and swaps out the memory cards. He uploads the best material to @southendtrailcams, an Instagram account created to showcase the best evidence of the area's burgeoning coyote population.
NCC swaps sign
Brown's advocacy caught the attention of the local city councillor.
"Big shoutout to this young man, his efforts and his advocacy," said River Ward Coun. Riley Brockington, who was alerted to Brown's activities by the Riverside Park Community Association.
WATCH | Brown is raising awareness about coyotes at Linton Park through trail cams and Instagram:
Brockington approached the National Capital Commission (NCC), which leases Linton Park to the City of Ottawa, and within a few days a permanent sign of the same design as one installed at nearby McCarthy Park had replaced Brown's DIY original. The NCC confirmed it posted the sign after being contacted by the city.
"I love this engagement. Certainly it's not just about warning people, advising people that there are coyotes, but the fact that they're part of the environment, part of the ecosystem," said Brockington.
The NCC's new full-colour warning is doing its job, said Andrea Petersen, who visits the park often with her eight-month-old chocolate Labrador retriever.
"It's awesome, very informative. I read the whole thing," she said.
Brown said he's glad his message got out there, and that he started the ball rolling.
"It was mainly for the neighbourhood, but it expanded quite fast," he laughed.