Keep family and pets safe: City of Markham offers tips on how to deter coyotes and rats

·3 min read

Humans are not the only ones that live in Markham. Foxes, coyotes, rats and other wildlife can be spotted from time to time. Every year around April they start looking for food to raise their pups.

This means that people will start seeing them more and more near the ravine systems, natural areas, parks, even backyards.

Obvious ways to avoid such intrusion are to remove food and hiding places on your property, but what else?

Markham’s licensing and animal services co-ordinator Christy Lehman shares some useful tips on how to deter coyotes, foxes, rats and other unwanted critters, as well as how to keep your family and your pets safe.

Foxes and coyotes are an important part of our shared, local ecosystems. Residents can take measures to ensure a peaceful coexistence with our wild neighbours.

Typically, foxes and coyotes are unlikely to initiate contact with people. “When you encounter with them and they have no intention of hurting you, just leave them alone. Remember not to approach or feed them,” Lehman said.

Sometimes, they might not run away immediately or get too close for comfort, in which case Lehman suggests residents use an umbrella to scare them off. “Take an umbrella and open it at them, and it usually works,” Lehman said. “You can also make noise, yell, clap your hands, stomp and wave your arms.”

Follow these guidelines to keep foxes and coyotes away:

• Keep waste in secure bins or store bins in a secure building or container.

• Do not put waste bins out until the morning of pickup.

• Make sure outdoor compost containers are wildlife-proof.

• Remove fallen fruit from trees and scattered bird seed from feeders.

• Keep pet food inside, and do not leave small pets outdoors unattended.

It’s better to carry a whistle or noisemaker when walking outside, especially in known habitat areas. Lehman reminds people to report it to Animal Services when you find the animal is sick or injured, by calling 905-310-7722.

Spring also brings more sightings of rats and other unwanted critters as they too will be more active and start raising their young.

If you find rats at home, Lehman suggests consulting with professional pest control company first.

“They could remove the rats in effective ways and help you check for loopholes on your property to prevent them from entering again,” Lehman said, “We do not recommend that you buy rat poison or mousetrap yourself.”

Follow these guidelines to keep rats and other unwanted critters away:

• Do not leave any food outside and do not place your garbage out early.

• Put outdoor garbage bags in metal garbage cans with securely fitted lids to stop critters from feeding on contents.

• Clean around the house — less clutter means fewer places to hide.

• Clean up pet food and bird seed debris.

• Keep gardens free from debris and keep clutter to a minimum.

• If you have a compost heap, don’t include organic food waste as that will attract rats and critters.

More information can be found at www.markham.ca/wildlife or Coyote Watch Canada.

Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun