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CAMBRIDGE, P.E.I. - Heather Faubert is urging pet owners to be vigilant in protecting their animals against coyotes so their pets do not suffer the same fate as her small dog.
Faubert’s three-year-old West Highland terrier named Bridgette was killed in an attack by two coyotes on Dec. 23 outside her home in the rural community of Cambridge, located in southeastern Kings County.
Her second dog, a year-and-a-half-old Cairns terrier called Henry, dodged the attack but has been traumatized by the encounter.
Not surprisingly, Faubert has also been rattled by the untimely and violent death of her beloved dog.
“It’s too bad the whole thing had to happen,’’ she says. “It will take a while to get over it…it was a shock, for sure.’’
Faubert felt compelled to give others a heads up to help avoid any other pet falling prey to a coyote.
She reached out to Garry Gregory, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Communities, Land and Environment, to help address her concerns over the coyotes.
Gregory told Faubert he would visit her property to look at the “lay of the land’’ and that he could get in touch with a local trapper.
Gregory told The Guardian his department regularly gets calls from the public about coyotes, with the majority reporting sightings in and around yards in rural or suburban areas.
Gregory says multiple coyote sightings have been reported in the past few months.
“To my knowledge, there have also been no specific reports within that time regarding predation on pets, but it is not uncommon for coyotes to prey on small pets, particularly when they are unattended during the late evening or overnight hours,’’ he says.
“This does not always suggest aggression or boldness but rather that coyotes are opportunistic.’’
Gregory says his department assesses all reports based on the circumstances of the sighting and the observed behaviour of the coyotes to determine whether the department will act.
“Our advice at all times, but especially when coyotes are known to be present in an area, is to supervise all small pets while outside as they are known to be vulnerable to coyote predation.’’
Faubert echoes Gregory’s call for pet owners to keep close tabs on their animals when they are outside.
Gregory says coyotes are the “epitome of generalists’’.
They will prey on everything from ground nesting birds and eggs to snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse and small mammals like mice and voles. They also eat a lot of berries and apples when they are in season.
“Because they are so general in their food habits, natural prey is rarely limited for coyotes,’’ he notes.
“Predation on small pets is likely more a matter of opportunity and convenience – from an energy perspective, it can be more efficient than hunting natural prey – rather than necessity.’’