Ginger Petty

November 30, 2009 10:43 ET

Coyotes: Not in my backyard!

ILE BIZARD, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Nov. 30, 2009) - On these beautiful days of Indian summer, albeit a little late this fall, we all love to take those long walks in the parks and trails found in abundance in and around Montreal. We take our children, our grand-children, our aged parents and our dogs. Unfortunately for me, a resident of Ile Bizard, this is no longer an option. I own a residential property at 2305 Bord du lac with additional acres of undeveloped land across the street that borders the Ile Bizard Nature Park.

This year alone there have been 7 sightings of coyotes on my property. In the past three weeks, a Quebec licensed trapper has forcibly removed five (5) coyotes from my undeveloped land. All this happened within hundreds of feet from Bord du Lac where energetic joggers, bicyclists and dog walkers abound.

Now many people, including the Park Commission of Ile Bizard, write and say that Coyotes are afraid of people, will say that there is no need to fear coyotes, say that there are no coyotes in the park, but after speaking with another Ile Bizard resident, Jim Nucci of Ile Bizard, he has seen coyotes in the Nature Park and feels that "the park is dangerous".

I've heard it all...including that Nova Scotia coyotes that brutally killed Taylor Mitchell, age 19, Toronto singer and song writer, October 28, 2009, are not the same as Quebec coyotes. Oh really?

The problem is that Ile Bizard is a small island measuring approximately 2 miles by 7 miles surrounded by water with a heavy current. The coyotes smell the scent of beaver and deer on Ile Bizard and cross the ice January thru March from far away distances such as Laval and Deux Montagnes for their winter feast. But then in April, the ice thaws and we end up co-existing with "protected" coyotes trapped on our little island for another 9 months. No, they do not know how to take the ferry to Laval or cross the bridge to Pierrefonds. What do coyotes do for those 9 months? They make baby coyotes -3 to 9 each year. Where do they live? They live where there is safety, food, and absolute protection- the Nature Park and undeveloped areas of Ile Bizard. They hunt hidden from view in cedar tree groves. Who is removing this ever growing population of coyotes from Ile Bizard? No one!

I own a little 15 lb. shelter dog. I've been told that if a coyote spots and attacks him, even leashed, it will also attack me should I intervene to protect my best friend- "Scruffy". Should I really have to make this choice? Is it acceptable that in a residential suburb of Montreal that I walk in fear that I may lose Scruffy, be hurt or lose my life as Taylor Mitchell lost hers? Let's ask the Mitchell family if coyotes are dangerous. The park was not built to be a home to predators of people or of our pets.

It is important that you know the following facts when walking your children or grandchildren on the streets of Ile Bizard, in the Nature Park of Ile Bizard or letting children play in your back yard on Ile Bizard: Coyotes can dig under fences and breach trees to jump fences. They can leap 14 feet. They run in packs of two or more. Coyotes are the 9th fastest animal in the world at an average speed of 43 MPH. Average weight between 35 and 45 pounds. Are you and your children safe in your own back yard?

I was told to carry pepper spray. I never lived like this before. Does anyone really think I can ward off a coyote attack with my dog in my arms, turning the pepper spray safety value, aiming and actually hitting the face of a coyote attacking within 10 feet of me?

It is also a fact that the more coyotes come in contact with people, the less fearful they become of them. How many people use the Nature Park annually? Do we really need to wait for a tragic coyote attack on any child, teenager or adult, as happened in Nova Scotia last month to Taylor Mitchell, before the Government of the City of Montreal anticipates and takes preventive action?

It is time for our local politicians to take their heads out from under the sand and deal with this vital issue:

"The protection of all the people of Ile Bizard, visitors, children and residents alike, and our pets who have the right to enjoy our property and park with peace of mind and absolute safety."

Let's not forget the hundreds of school children walking merrily thru the Ile Bizard Nature Park with their teachers, the Ile Bizard Elementary School and playgrounds adjacent to the park, the day care center, the hundreds of homes and back yards surrounding the park, and the recreational facilities, etc. And fences do not keep coyotes out.

I invite the Park Commissioner to walk on my property in winter darkness at 6pm with his or her grandchildren and feel the fear that I feel. This will be fun as another park employee said that the coyotes only live on my land and do not enter the park property. My, what educated coyotes we have. Maybe we can teach them how to use the ferry boat or bridge to Pierrefonds.

It is the responsibility of the City of Montreal to rid our island of all coyotes. After all, we are in the Montreal City domain. If there was a coyote in Park Mt. Royal, would not Montreal remove this animal?

In a closing note, I want to say, that these animals needn't be put down, there are humane ways of dealing with them including having them moved to places way up north where beaver and deer populations are abundant, and where the coyotes can thrive in massive parks far away from humans... I just don't need them in my back yard... on an isolated island.

Listed below are names of people having had coyote sightings on Ile Bizard:

There have been 6 coyote sightings in the past year on my house property at 2305 Bord du Lac by Marian Leskow.

David Guinard sighted 1 coyote on lot# 201, July 2009

Jim Nucci has witnessed coyotes in the park and states that "he feels that the park is absolutely not safe."

Michel Desrosiers, licensed Quebec trapper, "This is nothing- just wait until the coyotes really come out in the cold weather."

Have you witnessed a sighting of a coyote on Ile Bizard? Do you know of anyone whose pet has been destroyed by coyotes on Ile Bizard? Email me please. I urge all of you to take this matter seriously. Contact your local politicians and email me at demanding the removal of all coyotes not only from the Ile Bizard Nature Park but the entire island of Ile Bizard.

Last note: If just one person, child or pet is hurt on Ile Bizard, it will not be my fault because you have been advised. But it will be your fault if you live on Ile Bizard and chose to do nothing. Coyotes do not belong on Ile Bizard- no to coyotes!

Ginger Petty, Ile Bizard resident for 35 years.

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