Sunday, February 3, 2013

What to do when you encounter an urban Coyote (or other Tango Wildlife)

Although Toronto is quite a densely built-up city, we have often bumped into wildlife in the streets - especially late at night when we are returning home from a milonga.

I guess cats aren't really "wildlife" ... but we've seen lots of those, especially around Dovercourt Park (where La Cachila and Paradiso are held in Dovercourt House) and in Swansea (where Practica El Beso and W.E. Tango are held at Swansea Town Hall).  "Oh my God, I hope we don't see a cat tonight!" Man Yung says often.  We are quite worried when we see cats crossing the road - some of those downtown streets have a lot of traffic.  And what about the hungry predators, or malicious people.  Sometimes cats come up to say hello.  We coo over the kitties like crazy cat people.  "Gooooooood kittyyyyyy!  Go home!  Go home!" we pray.

Yep, go home - before you have a rendezvous with Mr. Car, or Mr. Raccoon!  We see see Raccoons solitary, in pairs, or in "gazes" (I looked up the word, it should be the right one to describe a whole bunch - we saw seven flitting down an alley in the Danforth area one night after going to Palermo).  They aren't frightened of cars or humans (they are in no hurry when they cross the street - maybe that's why there is so much raccoon roadkill) and they are really BIG from feasting on all that yummy Toronto garbage.  They also make strange noises.  One night we heard something like a crow up in a tree.  We shone a flashlight up into the branches to see what it was - and THE HUGE (baby) RACCOON that was making the noise sprinted down the tree and rushed towards us.  We were so startled that we screamed like little schoolgirls and ran away.

Last night, when we en route going home and driving through Scarborough, we were surprised to see  TWO COYOTES.  They were trotting through the hydrofield like, it was completely normal for two wild coyotes to be seen right in the middle of suburbia.  We stopped the car to stare for a few more seconds.  They looked sleek and well-fed and although it is nice to gawk at their natural beauty through a car window, it's a completely different story if you meet a pair of coyotes in your neighbourhood while you are on foot!

 Not Fido, not Lassie - it's Coyote (and not the Wile E. kind)

We think Coyotes are interesting and beautiful animals, but we are still alarmed that they are right in our neighbourhood.  We've read about coyotes attacking pets and even small children in city parks and backyards so we decided to see if there's any information on the internet about what to do when you encounter them.

What luck, our local city councillor Mike DelGrande has some information on his blog!  We are not the only ones seeing Coyotes in our part of town.  He even has tips on what to do to prevent Coyote attack.

"......Wait a minutes, these tips are not only useful in repelling Coyote attack!" exclaimed Man Yung.  "They are also useful for animal control in the milongas!"

It's great that we found this article - because really, what would you do if you are ambushed right in your local milonga by Donkey Kong, Flapping Mating Ostriches, Crazy Chicken Ladies, Fabios, The Creature that is All Arms (and Hands) or perhaps the Whole Zoo all at once?

Substitute "Coyote" with "Fabio" or whatever other Tango Wildlife you find and you've got your answer!

Residents are advised to follow these practical steps that will help to minimize negative encounters with coyotes:

Never feed a coyote or any wild animal. Feeding wild animals is detrimental to the community and to the animals themselves.

* The last thing you want to do is to give the impression that whatever they horrible thing they are doing is ok and they can come back for seconds anytime!

Ensure all household garbage is inaccessible to animals.
Place garbage at the curb the morning of the scheduled pick-up.
Consider using green bins instead of composters for food waste.

** Be careful of leaving scraps and garbage out and easily accessible - some Tango Wildlife enjoy consuming crap.  You are bound to find an abundance of Tango Wildlife where they play a lot of "innovative" tandas and where the floorcraft can be categorized as "it's a free country, anything goes"! Wildlife feel less ashamed about kicking other people when everyone else around them is kicking just as recklessly - and when loud, pulsating "Gotan" is drowning out the screams of their victims.
Remove dense brush and weeds around property to minimize hiding spots for coyotes.

*** If there's an orderly, calm dance floor with lots of light (added bonus - people can see each other to cabeceo!) AND the milonga organizers make sure they maintain the serenity of their venue with stern warnings once in a while, you will have less Toronto Wildlife lurking in the corners of your pista waiting to bite other dancers in the ass.

If you encounter a coyote, wave your arms aggressively, make loud noises, and throw objects in its direction (but not at it) to scare it away. These actions teach coyotes to be afraid of humans and this will minimize conflicts. If these actions do not scare a coyote, back away slowly from the animal. Do not turn your back or attempt to run away.****

**** Don't back down from a threat - confront it!  Milonga organizers are responsible for maintaining order in their milongas - if some animal is disturbing the peace, they have to tell the offender to stop, or even kick them out if the warning is unheeded.  The Evil Eye can sometimes work..."No" to dance invitations to dancers who behave badly is also a good deterrent.  "Pretending there is no problem" by turning your back on it (or running away) is the worse you can do - you will only encourage the attack, and then next thing you know, you will find yourself in Tango Hell (with Animals!)

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