PORT HAWKESBURY: The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said it hasn’t received many recent calls of coyote sightings in and around the Town of Port Hawkesbury.

“We did get a run of calls and reports throughout the last year, but in the last month or so, it’s been pretty quiet,” said Michael Boudreau, the DNR’s Human Wildlife Conflict Biologist.

“I think we had one call last month and likely one in November. July, August, September were all quite busy. In the peak, I was getting a number of e-mails a day on my Web site about people seeing them.”

Generally speaking, September and October are the months of high activity for coyotes, as that’s the time when young coyotes disperse. They go looking for new food sources and places to live, which causes them to visit new places.

The higher-than-average number of sightings in July and August, Boudreau said, might have related to a DNR presentation to Port Hawkesbury Town Council on the subject of coyote sightings. The level of attention drawn to the subject might have resulted in people being on the lookout for the animals, Boudreau said, but he doesn’t doubt the reports were legitimate.

“Coyotes were going through yards, but their behavior was not of immediate concern,” he said.

Boudreau said a remedy for people wanting to keep coyotes – or any sort of animal – from their neighbourhoods would be to limit the amount of food near their houses. Coyotes, along with raccoons and bears, can be attracted to the sort of food sources used in birdfeeders and for domestic pets.

A coyote’s loss of fear of people, called habituation, is nearly always caused by direct or indirect feeding by people, or by the presence of nonthreatening humans in coyote habitat.

“When the food disappears, the unwanted animals disappear,” he said.

If a coyote does come into a yard, day or night, the best way to scare them off is with loud noises. Hitting the panic button on your car or truck is a good way of scaring the animals off, and banging on pots and pans works well too.

“It should say to them, this is a weird place and I’m not going to stick around,” he said.

Boudreau said the DNR is ready to hear from the public if coyote sightings pop up. More information on dealing with wild animals can be found on-line at: novascotia.ca/natr/wildlife/living-with-wildlife/. The department can also be reached by phone at 1-800-670-4357.