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Foxes, coyotes roaming in PAB

Mayor Brian Button encourages residents to remember what is best for wildlife like foxes and coyotes by not littering and not feeding them. – File photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES — Foxes have been sighted on Hardy’s Arterial quite frequently, but they are not the only kind of wildlife that is concerning for residents, particularly those with pets.

Recently coyotes have been reported on social media as roaming near Caribou Road, but Mayor Brian Button said he hasn’t personally received any such reports.

“I haven’t seen anything, nor have I received a call regarding coyotes. We occasionally get a coyote in and around the community. We are close to the woods and coyotes will roam. They are hunters, and they will seek out food, so you will get an odd coyote that goes around town. There’s no doubt about that. I have seen them in the past and have known they were around in the past, but I haven’t had anyone approach me or send me a message or ask me. I’m not saying the town office hasn’t received anything, but I haven’t.”

Button said this causes safety concerns for individuals walking in the area when wild animals are present.

“They are wild animals and they can become unpredictable. There’s no doubt that a fox, for example, is a pretty animal, but they are a wild animal. This is not a dog you can walk up, pet, and play with. The animal is looking for one thing — food. If you’re giving the animal food, they are probably not going to attack you, but who knows? They are unpredictable.”

Button said that the people throwing out their garbage on service roads and other areas in town are increasing the likelihood that wild animals will find their way into the communities searching for an easy meal and regular food source.

“When you’ve got people going out, throwing out full carcasses of moose, their skins, that’s going to attract these animals and bring them closer to town limits. There’s a place to take all of that stuff and dispose of it all, and not within the town boundary. So if you are concerned about coyotes and you’re concerned about bears, those type of things, doing that type of activity increases the chances of an animal like that showing up.”

The Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture have issued warnings in the past to explain to people why they need to be careful and remain vigilant when coyotes are spotted near residential areas.

“Wild animals can be dangerous and unpredictable when approached by humans. The public is strongly encouraged to avoid feeding these animals, as this practice significantly increases the risk of unpredictable behaviour. Appropriate steps should also be taken to properly store and dispose of garbage, and to avoid leaving pet food outside. This practice can attract wild animals near homes where they can pose a risk to public safety.

“While coyotes have a natural fear of humans and attacks are extremely rare, if encountering one of these animals, you should:

• Stop, remain calm and assess their situation;

• Never approach or crowd it —leave an escape route;

• If the animal seems unaware of you, move slowly and quietly away when it is not looking in your direction;

• If it is aware of you, respond aggressively: wave your arms, shout, maintain eye contact, and throw rocks, sticks or other objects; and

• Back away slowly toward buildings or people — running will encourage a chase.

“The Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture reminds the public not to feed or handle wildlife. Wild animals including foxes and coyotes are generally more active this time of year as they search for food, and conservation officers are monitoring increased reports of foxes in several areas of the province.

“Feeding wild animals does not help them — this practice creates a safety hazard that may lead to the destruction of the animal. Please do your part to avoid wildlife conflicts by:

• Ensuring food or garbage is not available to wildlife;

• Keeping pets within fenced yards, and dogs on a leash or under close supervision while off leash in public areas;

• Ensuring pets are vaccinated; and• Keeping a safe distance from wild animals.

“Conservation officers only handle wildlife in the event of a public safety concern, or if circumstances warrant removing the animal. Otherwise, wildlife are best left in their natural surroundings. Anyone encountering what they believe to be an orphaned or injured animal should contact their local Forestry and Wildlife district office.”

As recently as last week, wildlife officials arrived in Port Aux Basques, attempting to gather up the foxes that some residents persist in feeding.

“Wildlife is back out in the area of Hardy’s Arterial, trying to gather up those foxes that we have in that area. I saw a couple of wildlife vehicles and a couple of wildlife officers out with their equipment trying to catch them. I know they’ve been having some difficulties getting them, and that’s because the animals are being fed and they don’t have any reason to come to the trap for food. They are being well fed in the evenings,” said Button. “I saw them going out with netting and their traps aboard their vehicles, so I know they are actively trying to get them, but I don’t think it has been an easy task to get the mall. I don’t know for sure, but I think they’ve gotten a couple but don’t have them all rounded up yet.”

Button encouraged residents to bear in mind what is best for the foxes and stop feeding them so that wildlife officials can capture them. Conditioning wild animals to accept food from humans will not help them in the long run, as they will not learn essential survival skills.

“They’re not trying to do it to make away with these animals, they are doing it to try and return them to their natural environment, and hopefully they survive it, because they are a predator who are a hunter themselves, but right now they come out in the evenings, sit on the pavement and wait for people to come.”

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