Kathy Ehman- Our space

Losing a beloved pet hurts. Our companion animals are family and we go to considerable lengths to keep them healthy and happy throughout the brief span of years they’re with us. But even our best efforts aren’t enough at times because illnesses and accidents are unpredictable and not always preventable. The opportunistic and very clever coyote is finding chinks in our pet protection, and last week coyotes attacked and mortally wounded Bridgette, a little dog in Cambridge.

Many of us choose rural life in part because of the freedom and active lifestyle a country home provides for our pets as well as for ourselves. Unfortunately, the roads less travelled by people are the same ones our wildlife neighbours frequent. We only have one apex predator here on the Island. Wolves, bears and cougars are long gone, leaving the master of adaptation, the coyote, on the top of the four footed food chain.

Some folks think coyotes wandered across the ice on the Northumberland Strait to take up residence here. There were other stories circulating in the early 1970s, suggesting the animals were introduced as a means of controlling foxes and rabbits. It has also been said the wild canines we’re seeing have the genes of both the timber wolf and the coyote. A wolf-ote. Bigger, stronger than the original coyote.

What is certain is the animals are incredibly adaptable and clever, foiling attempts to reduce their numbers by having fewer pups when food supplies and territory shrinks and instigating a baby boom when circumstances are more favourable.

Coyotes are becoming increasingly bold and difficult to intimidate or control, jumping fences, entering lighted yards and even showing themselves around populated areas in broad daylight. It would appear they have the upper hand at this time and pet owners need to be vigilant in recognizing the potential danger to their animals.

Coyotes are wild animals, the heartbroken owners of Bridgette the Brave said. They’re programmed to find their own food and to escape from danger, but our domestic animals haven’t a clue as to how dangerous those other ‘puppies’ can be.

Kathy Ehman

Reporter

(1) comment

Leviticus

Although I am sorry that this family lost their pet I do honestly wonder at the naive behaviour that led to this loss. I live within sight of that family's home (the old manse beside St. Paul's) and for years I have seen pretty sizeable coyote tracks in the snow here and the odd glimpse of them in the woods and fields nearby. I have heard them howling in the woods in front of my home on nights of a full moon. The last thing I would do is keep a small dog in a rural, wooded part of Canada with coyotes or wolves so much a part of the landscape. And in the last three to four years in this very area around Sturgeon I've seen golden eagles - and they are big. Huge. And unlike the bald headed eagles who mainly eat fish or roadkill the golden eagles go after larger mammals. So, if you think that having a little toy dog and letting it run around outdoors is perfectly fine, then you will stand a fair chance of having that pet killed. It's selfish and cruel.

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