Wednesday, March 19th Commentary
I did a little homework last night after hearing Toronto city councillor Glenn de Baermaeker's comments that coyotes are harmless and we should leave them alone.
Not one of those statements is true.
I want to share with you the results of my digging into this issue a bit.
No fewer than 160 coyote attacks in the U.S. over a 30 year span. 48 of them occured in the 5 years ending in 03. There aren't any updated figures beyond that but research suggests there is an escalation of attacks, not only in the U.S. but here in Canada as well especially in the areas where wildlife living and suburbia collide.
There is a general consensus amongst wildlife experts that coyotes in that setting are losing their fear of humans and are more aggressive because people feed them.
The problem is exacerbated in this part of North America because most of the coyotes here are Eastern Coyotes or so-called Coy-Wolves coyotes mated with wolves.
There have been two instances in North America where coyotes have killed humans.
In 1981 in Glendale, California 3-year-old Kelly Keen got out of her house without her mother knowing. A coyote attacked her on the driveway and dragged her off.
October 2009. This is the story of 19-year-old Taylor Mitchell of Toronto, a grad of the Etobicoke School of the Arts and a folk singer who was making her mark. She was on tour in the Maritimes and decided to go for a hike by herself in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. She was attacked by 3 coyotes who were feeding on her when a group of other hikers chased them off. Taylor was rushed to hospital but died overnight.
Those are the only two fatal attacks on humans in North America but there have been a significant number of injuries from coyote attacks.
Research shows that children are attacked more often than any other demographic. 75 percent of the kids were playing in their yard or in the driveway. 19 percent were attacked while sleeping outside or sitting in a chair outside their home.
At Cornell Universtiy, wildlife biologist Paul Curtis told National Geographic magazine there is a progression of behaviour going on. Coyotes are increasingly spotted in daylight hours. Next, pets start to vanish from yards. Some are even snatched off leashes by coyotes. Curtis says "that's the last stage before a human attack." He's convinced this is "learned behaviour"
The game has changed when it comes to coyotes, folks.
To paraphrase another wildlife expert we humans seem to be taking a Disneyland approach to coyotes. And I'll add that Glenn de Baermaeker could easily play the role of Goofy.
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has stepped in to end a looming mortgage rate war with financial institutions.
BMO started it with a 5-year fixed rate of 2.99 percent. Manulife came in 10 basis points lower on Monday. Yesterday Flaherty had a staffer call Manulife to complain. Manulife immediately cowered and has yanked that low rate off the table.
Flaherty justifies by saying it was this type of race to the bottom that triggered the mortgage crisis in the U.S.
But as a number of politicians and economists have noted, this is supposed to be a competitive marketplace how can their be competition when Flaherty intervenes.
Bob Rae says "the banks have huge profits. The idea that they should not be able to give a break to consumers is ridiculous. NDP leader Tom Mulcair say Flaherty's actions smack of behaviour you see in a banana republic.
The fact is Flaherty has his hands on the regulatory controls already. He just had to make it tougher to qualify for mortgage, he's already done it. Why does he have to use his political heft to stop something which is entirely legal.