Why, oh, why, Wile-E? Local cats fast becoming a favourite snack for area coyotes

The Missing
The Missing

If you’re like me, a cat person who does a lot of walking around town (not with the cat, obviously), you might have been noticing an awful lot of missing cat signs posted on telephone poles and community bulletin boards. It seems that every few days, there is a new sign up announcing another vanished cat. Pickles, Thumbs, and Lily are just some amongst many beloved four-legged feline friends who have never made it home after roaming about doing what cats do in the great outdoors.

 

Over the summer, it seems as if the appearance of these sad missing posters is on the increase, and a recent thread on Bhubble has posited a theory: Wily Wile E. Coyotes might be to blame.

Coyotes are on the hunt, and their favourite snack just might be your fluffy little purring machine.

Anecdotal evidence points to estimates of anywhere between 20 and 60 cats in Rossland going missing over the past months, and there have been several coyote sightings in town which point to increased coyote activity in the area. The conservation officer responsible for Rossland, Blair Thin, has himself fielded only three coyote reports within city limits since January, two of them coming in the last month. One included a couple who had witnessed two coyotes stalking and hunting their cat--and capturing the pet right before their eyes.

One Rossland resident posted the following to Bhubble: “I was heading to work early one morning, and saw TWO coyotes around Angela's Guesthouse. They immediately ran in opposite directions.”

In the wild, coyotes hunt solo, in pairs, and sometimes in small packs, and they typically like small animals like rodents and rabbits. Cats and small dogs are also likely victims. If hunting in pairs, as mentioned above, coyotes will split up and stalk prey from opposite sides, tiring the prey out and making it easier to capture.

Angela Price, the proprietor of Angela’s Guesthouse and Angela’s Bed & Breakfast, both located in lower Rossland on the banks of Trail Creek, herself the proud owner of four kitties, hasn’t seen any coyotes herself but has heard through her network of Mountain Kingdom friends and neighbours of an increase in reports of missing cats in the last year.

Doreen Butler, who lives on lower Esling Drive, near the old Wagon Road, has seen coyotes in her yard. “I saw one early, early one morning, and he was between my house and my neighbour’s house, and he was walking up towards Thompson Avenue. Another close neighbour saw one quite recently when she was out walking her dog, and she said it was with a second, younger coyote. And my daughter saw one coming up the Wagon Road one night when she was coming back [home], very close to Irwin Avenue.”

Shortly after seeing the coyote in her yard, Butler’s newly-adopted cat, went missing.

Conservation Officer Blair Thin encourages Rossland residents to report coyote sightings to the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) hotline in order to give local COs a better picture of coyote activity within city limits.

“We need to find out where they’re actually hanging out and if there are certain areas that they’re targeting, when they’re actually coming out, and that sort of behaviour. Three reports in the year isn’t giving us a case history on anything.”

Thin also said that he has heard a rumour that there may be people feeding coyotes in Rossland. This is a huge no-no.

“Section 33.1 of the Wildlife Act dictates that it is against the law to feed wildlife with the intent of attracting wildlife to your land. So, in other words, leaving or placing food on your land or your premises that could attract wildlife is an offence.” Thin hasn’t been able to confirm this rumour and has no suspects.

He goes on to say that one of the major causes of increased coyote appearances in towns and cities is humans feeding them.

“Coyotes are prone to becoming conditioned and habituated--much like the wolf or the fox--very quickly, more so than a bear would. They get very accustomed to being fed, especially hand fed. We’ve had a huge increase of wildlife encounters along our corridor in the rest areas. People pull over on the side of the road and they see a coyote sitting there, or a red fox, or whatever, and they throw it a Tim Bit or something like that. That only needs to happen a couple of times before animal realizes ‘wow, I’m getting some good meals just sitting here looking cute and forlorn or trying to pretend that I’m hungry’.”

Butler suggests this: “Something must have happened with the rabbit population. Normally, nature provides accordingly, but obviously something has unbalanced the rabbit population at the moment, and when the rabbits are back they the coyotes will be quite busy and they won’t be coming into town.”

But whether it’s an imbalance in Mother Nature or a family of Wile Es being their natural, opportunistic selves and capturing whatever’s bountiful nearby, the only sure way to keep your kitty safe from becoming a coyote’s next meal is to keep him or her inside, particularly at night and in the early morning, when coyotes are most active.

“I’m all for live and let live,” Angela Price states, “but not when some thug of a [wild animal] moves into town. You can’t blame a coyote for being hungry, but you can say enough is enough when something is obviously hunting pets.”

With all this in mind, please report any coyote sightings in town to the conservation officers so they can establish hopefully cat-saving coyote patterns of behaviour in Rossland. The hotline number is 1-877-952-7277. It’s the central dispatch office in Victoria, but it is manned 24 hours a day, and the details you give the dispatcher will be quickly given to our local conservation officers.

In the meantime, keep cats indoors and small dogs on a tight leash when taking them out for walks.

Comments

RE: "It appears you have misquoted your info"

I stand corrected, I just liked that particular link because it showed various pictures of dear and loved kitties in action. Sorry, it appears that cats may kill somewhere between 100's of millions to billions of songs birds, or maybe just birds in general (I will leave you to do you own Google searches). Like much of the human/wildlife confrontation in our communities, much is to be blamed on our actions. Coyotes (and bears and other wildlife) learn our habits like leaving garbage out, not tending fruit trees and not properly tending domesticated animals (including cats) and act accordingly. In short, keep your cat out of my yard and a coyote won't have an opportunity to kill it there.

Outdoor cats are predators too

While I sympathize with those who have lost a pet, I agree that cat owners need to take more responsibility for their roaming cats. Cats kill billions of songbirds in North America every year and are major contributor to the decimation of songbird populations. Domesticated cats are a non-indigenous (invasive ) predator. Keep your cats under control or don't complain when nature takes its course. Cats are a predator that competes for prey with wild predators, including coyotes. It is natural for competing predators to kill the competition. And yes, even your outdoor cat kills songbirds. More info: http://audubonawe.squarespace.com/storage/OUTDOOR%20CATS.pdf

It appears you have misquoted your info.

Your info link says: "It is estimated that in the United States, cats kill over a billion small mammals and millions of birds a year." You said: "Cats kill billions of songbirds in North America every year..." That is quite the jump in numbers and quite the leap from estimate to statement. Regardless, these types of comments skirt and detract from the real issue. This is about Rossland, coyotes and cats. Why are coyotes decimating Rossland's cat population? What has brought coyotes into town in such numbers this year in particular? Is it the recent trend to keep chickens in town? Last night I clearly saw a large coyote (approximate height: 3 feet from front paw to ear tip) about 25 feet away walking down a well lit midtown Rossland street? If my cat, dog or grandchild was sitting on the front doorstep or in my yard, they and any other small animal would have clearly been in danger. Should they all be "cooped up"?

A karmic kitty kwandary

Thanks for bringing up this aspect of the issue, ssanders! Those owners who love to have their cats roam free willingly let them kill other animals, so need to be somewhat philosophical about the possibility of their animal getting killed in turn. That's what animals do!

As for those who insist on keeping cats indoors, I'd like to learn more about the mental well-being of solitary predators that spend their lives cooped up in close proximity to other creatures while denied the right to hunt...Anybody out there care to educate me?

I'm not a cat person, but if I was, I'd let mine take its chances outdoors and if it ended up as a coyote's lunch, I'd feel that at least it got to live while it was alive.

A Karmic Kitty Kwandry

Cats are perfectly happy as indoor creatures if they never are allowed to run wild. As for loving to hunt that is for the owner to take time to play with them they love to chase and play with toys. Save our wild life keep cats indoors.

And rodents

And let's not forget all the rodents that cats kill. Probably the reason they were domesticated in the first place.

Coyotes Range and Respect as a Two way Street

First I would caution those that are quick to say that we moved into the coyotes range and that they are 'natural' and therefore somehow deserving of special treatment (when they kill someone else's pet). Coyotes are probably not native to the Rossland area. Like the whitetail deer they have been expanding their range over the last century, following and using man as a facilitator. Most old-time woodsmen will tell you that if there are wolves around you will have few if any coyotes. Coyotes are extremely adaptable carnivores. The reason they are so adaptable is because they are very intelligent and opportunistic. The have discovered an easy food supply (pets) and that the risk to them of exploiting this food supply is almost nil. Unlike the prairies, almost no-one in this area targets coyotes. On the prairies there is a healthy population of coyotes but, by and large, they are very respectful of man. We don't need to eradicate coyotes. We can respect them for what they are, but unless they respect us there will be increasing confrontation with them. Soon they'll be trying out children as an easy target. We should support sportsmen who enjoy the opportunity to get out and try their skill at hunting this predator and support laws that encourage responsible harvest.

Cats are an introduced species.

Cats are not native to Rossland either. They have been introduced to the area, by humans. Cats are the most destructive predator on earth and have been the cause of extinctions of many species in both New Zealand and Australia. Now, you tell me which is the bigger problem, not only in Rossland BC, but worldwide. Cats or coyotes ??? In New Zealand cats have been responsible for the extinction of six endemic bird species and over 70 localised subspecies as well as depleting bird and lizard species. Cats in Australia have caused the decline and extinction of animals on islands as they have been shown to cause a significant impact on ground birds and small native mammals. Cats have also stopped any attempts to re-introduce threatened species back into areas where they have become extinct as the cats have simply hunted and killed the newly released animals. Numerous Australian environmentalists claim the cat has been an ecological disaster in Australia, inhabiting most ecosystems except dense rainforest, and being implicated in the extinction of several marsupial and placental mammal species.

cats and coyotes

If more people kept their cats in the house the coyotes would not increase because of an abundance of food and the poor birds would not be tortured to death by sadistic cats. Besides cats are not native here and are a deadly carnivore themselves, maybe we should just feed them to coyotes!

Coyotes

" I’m all for live and let live,” Angela Price states, “but not when some thug of a [wild animal] moves into town. You can’t blame a coyote for being hungry, but you can say enough is enough when something is obviously hunting pets.” Angela, how can a coyote be considered a "thug". It is doing what all carnivorous animals do, hunting. Unfortunately cats tend to be easy prey. Any carnivorous animal goes for the easy prey. Expend the least energy for the best reward. You say "enough is enough". Does this mean that coyotes should be hunted down and shot like so many bears have been? It disgusts me that we move into an animals territory but we are so unwilling to accept the consequences of that action. You live in a mountainous area with wildlife all around. You don't want your pets "hunted" then keep them inside.

Cats

It seems odd that people who let their pets run around actually shed a tear for them when they get eaten. In my mind, you shouldn't even be allowed to own a pet if you don't know where it is and what it is doing. I understand that they fill some selfish need for most people who want to own a living thing. I don't mind the occasional person (especially old) who needs a little company with an INDOOR, SPAYED or NEUTERED cat. Or if you own a farm. The rest of you should get off that. You are so selfish. Your cats run amock and spray everything in sight. They fight and they have sex and multiply. Cats do not like close proximity to each other, yet there will be 10 cats in a neighbourhood or multiple cats in a home which stresses them out. You are actually being cruel to own them in these situations. Of course there's the bird issue as well. There are only estimates of the numbers of birds they kill each year, but they are usu. over 100million in North America and possibly much higher. "The problem is not the cats," said Madi Legere of Cat Rescue Maritimes, a group that feeds several colonies of feral cats in Moncton. "The problem is the people who allow their cats to roam and especially the people who abandon their cats." Blancher said it's yet to be seen whether his research will lead to Environment Canada calling for action to reduce the number of birds killed by cats. Cats need to be licensed and owners should have to pay each year. Then they should be picked up or trapped and impounded if caught roaming around or a general nuisance to others. The North American cat population would decline pretty quickly, I imagine.

reporting coyotes

I had no idea it would help anyone by reporting coyotes. Ive seen them in broad daylight on the hiway to red headind down a path to 3rd?st. and a pup on the road just as you enter town coming up from trail. three times by the golf coarse on the hiway about 4 pm. they didnt even run just trotting down the road. it seems they use the bike trails a lot. the folks in south belt are seeing way more and a cougar.my son saw 5 by the miners hall one night. there are more than usual and packs not just one sick one.Ill call them in now but they seem to be all over town at night and I know they cover a lot of ground.not just one trail like a bear.racoons also like kittys.poor guys are the meal of choice in town.the slingshot is a great idea.but be carefull. the good ones are used to hunt rabbits. I will never throw rocks at les's house!

Why so unsafe relative to previous years?

I’ll add a few observations from an old timer here: Fifteen years ago my cat passed away peacefully from old age at 23. He was slow moving, white coloured, couldn’t hear and was a regular day and night time feature of our mid-town Rossland backyard. Two years later I received another cat, same policy and not a problem for 10 years until this July when it was killed by a coyote in our same backyard. Most years I have helped a lost stray back to their owner and even adopted a few of the less fortunate but not this year. There have been numerous sightings of coyotes in town lately, previously I had only seen them on the outskirts of town or heard them from a fair distance after an ambulance siren or some such. What has happened to bring coyotes into town and why is it so unsafe for small pets this year? Is it fluctuations in the predator/prey/host populations, introduction of chickens into town? Perhaps more importantly, what is this cat decimation telling us, what happens when the cats are all gone or locked up, are small dogs next? Should the grandkids be inside or playing in the backyard? All of these are reasonable questions to a larger problem.

All I can say is the other

All I can say is the other night It sounded like there were coyotes right outside my door never heard them that close before.

Incidentally, the number you

Incidentally, the number you call to report problem bears is the same number you call to report coyote sightings, so if you have any of the Bear Aware paraphernalia around, like the fridge magnets, for instance, that's the number to use: 1-877-952-7277.

Coyotes and cats don't mix

I too have been very upset hear about all the missing cats around town. I saw a very bold, sleek, well-fed coyote in my yard in lower Rossland just last week for the first time. This was at 9am. I called a couple neighbors and suggested they round up their outdoor cats. I have an unfortunate history with wildlife-feline interactions: before moving to Rossland, I lost one lovely little cat to some beast. I only found bits and pieces of her in the field next door. It was devastating. After that we only let our cats out during the day but even that was perilous. One early morning I had opened the cat door for my wonderful old Siamese. Within moments I heard a horrid scream. I ran outside and there was a huge coyote with my cat in his jaws! I yelled at him and believe it or not he dropped the cat and fled. I am sure it helped that I was in my "birthday suit" and to this day, that's enough to scare anyone! This story has a happy ending: the cat was injured but nothing the emergency vet and $1,200 couldn't fix. After that our cats all became 100% indoor cats and they are perfectly content. We have one old gal who adapted quite easily and two younger ones who have never been outdoors in their life. They are safe and happy- and my vet bills are way cheaper too.

Kathy, I applaud you for

Kathy, I applaud you for having indoor cats! I get such a hard time from people for having Juno be 100% indoors, but she is perfectly happy, and yes, the vet bills are way cheaper, too. She doesn't need yearly shots, she doesn't get exposed to illnesses or diseases from other animals or cats, and she isn't going to become anyone's snack, or hit by a car. I think if you truly love your cat in this area, keep him/her indoors! With lots of toys and windows to look out of and a good cat condo, they're plenty stimulated and have enough stuff around to have a good time with.

The good old sling shot!

We lost or beloved Siamese cat two years ago when it decided to have one last look outside before dark. It never returned. We suspect a coyote was the villain. Since that time, I have purchased a sling shot from Canadian Tire and a bag of marbles at the Dollar Store. With a little practice at hand, I can now hit a two inch target at 100 feet. Sling shots are legal, they are easy to use and work wonders against bears, coyotes and, when camping, on people who love to hassle us campers. (yes I nailed a kid in the butt at Central Park in Vancouver who was throwing rocks at our camper) For twenty bucks, you can get a “good” slingshot that is also great for warding off nuisance animals and for women for personal self defence purposes. My wife is now a sling shot weapon carrier because when we travel around the province to horseshoe tournaments; she loves to take long walks and always carries her pet sling shot. It works wonders!

good old sling shot

Hahahahahahaha, I love it. You shot some kid in the butt for being a pain in the a**. My hat is off to you!!!

Blame for lost cats rests at the feet of cat owners.

Anyone who moans about her/his "poor lost Kitty" need look no further than the mirror for the reason a "beloved" pet has died a horrible death. Allowing cats to roam is irresponsible and stupid. Cats are domesticated animals who have no ability to defend themselves against predators, be they other four-legged animals, humans or machines. I have NO sympathy for anyone who loses a cat allowed to roam. My sympathy is for the poor cat who deserved a responsible home and was failed.

Roaming cats?

What exactly is your definition of a roaming cat? And how would you prevent your cat from roaming, and still enjoy going outdoors? I had a cat that enjoyed roaming, it lived to the ripe old age of 13 or 14 years before disappearing this spring. Of course I was sad, but that's the way of nature. It would have died sooner or later, probably old and invalid if I'd kept it indoors all the time (should I lack sympathy for people who's indoor cat dies a long agonizing death because of kidney failure?!?). In the meantime, it kept the rodent population in check in and around my home, whether in the city or here in Rossland, while we kept each other warm and cozy through the winters.

FYI, Deb is an animal control

FYI, Deb is an animal control officer for a major Canadian city. Do you know how many kitty corpses she's scraped up off the streets because cats have been creamed by cars, or poisoned by humans? Trees, perches, porches, cat doors etc. weren't going to save any of those cats.

Not really a reason

By your estimation, my friend who works in a hospital emergency room should be warning everyone not to drive car, ride a bike, or even walk in the city. And saying helmets aren't going to save people from dying from those activities. I don't have a problem with your cat living indoors if it's happy. There's no reason for harping on others who don't wish to deny their cats the pleasure of the very natural element of the outdoors in their lives.

Just coyotes?

There are a number of grizzled experts who are fairly certain at least some of the cat disappearances are due to owls. Word on the street is someone recently witnessed, during the wee hours of the morning, a cat actually being carried off by an owl. There are also cougars, bobcats and skinny-looking stray(ish) dogs around town. Please keep your cats inside at night and let's hope this doesn't turn into a coyote witch-hunt (though I guess it would literally be a coyote-hunt)

just coyotes?

My cat was attacked by an owl when I was a kid. Good thing my Dad was there to scare it off. Also, my little brussels griffon( 8 pound dog) was set upon by a hawk last year out at the Salmo river. My dog was only three feet away from me.The hawk was in full dive and couldn't stop when it saw me running towards it. It ended up crashing into the grass just inches from me. It was quite funny. Here it thought an easy meal was in sight and all it got was a face plant into the ground. LOL.

I am often criticized for

I am often criticized for having Juno be an exclusively indoor cat. She's pudgy and lazy - but she's alive! The predator situation around here is the main reason she stays indoors all the time. I couldn't bear the thought of her going missing and being a coyote or cougar snack.

She'll die anyway.

You can't keep your cat alive forever by keeping her indoor. Would you use the same argument with a child? Not letting them ski, bike, rock climb, go for a hike in the woods, drive a car... just because they might get hurt or die? You can do a lot to keep your cat safe from predators without confining it inside. You can fence your yard in. You can put in a cat door. You can make sure there are trees it can climb, or bushes to hide in. Porches or sheds it can run under. Garages to run into. Perches from where it can observe its surroundings. All those things will make your cat happy and safer when it is outside.

I never said I'd keep my cat

I never said I'd keep my cat alive forever by keeping her inside! But she will live a longer, healthier life. A cat is not a child, obviously; it's absurd of you to compare them! (Oh, your kid will die anyway, so why take care of it? Get a grip, Phil!) I don't own a home, I rent one. I can't amend my yard, I can't amend my premises. It's a fact that statistically indoor cats live longer, healthier lives. It's as fact that outdoor cats are at greater risk for illnesses, injury, and predators. I'm not taking the risk.

Healthier?

You just said you had a fat and lazy cat. How is that healthy? Other than being alive? I don't deny that statistics show longer lives for indoor cats, but I'd be ready to bet that those statistics are skewed by having a large proportion of the death of outdoor cats being at a very young age. A young kitten outside is very much at risk. If it lives past its first few years, it's likely to live a decently long life. In any case, what's longevity compared to quality of life? If your indoor cat has lots of places to climb, toys to play with, people to interact with while living indoors - chances are it's going to be pretty happy. But the outdoors provides lots of natural and healthy entertainment for cats - which is ideal if you're not always around to give attention to your cat. I've found indoor cats generally require a lot more attention.

Healthier?

The point is its not natural, cats were imported so should be controlled in order to save natural species. As for more attention, why do you want a cat if you are not inclined to give it? Plus as has been shown indoor cats don't cost big on Vet bills. With millions of cats running wild and reproducing at a phenomenal rate what hope is there for our naturally occurring birds ? If a person wants a cat be responsible!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTTwcCVajAc

I know this is getting old but...

If you watched the original cat video, you have to hear the song...

Steve, not sure what your

Steve, not sure what your point was with posting that video but it made my morning. I nearly snorted coffee out my nostrils when she went on about wanting cats in a basket and on a rainbow etc. Too freaking funny, man!

Steve's video

I think Steve may be suggesting this woman has come into town and is hugging all the cats? And not giving them back??

I write this with great sadness and hope.

For all those who have lost a cat or suffered the loss of one recently in Rossland, I offer my heartfelt, shared sympathies and hope that the sunny little faces and paws that shined up our lives somehow make it safely back home again!

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