Coyote concern prompts public meeting in LaSalle

Lori Quaggiotto (left) and Andrea Thielk (right) make presentations to the council for the Town of LaSalle at its regular meeting on August 13, 2019 concerning coyote activity in the town. (Ricardo Veneza / CTV Windsor)

The Town of LaSalle is planning a public information session to help residents concerned about a perceived uptick in coyote activity.

Councillors have been hearing increasing community concern over the summer as more reports of coyote sightings in residential areas have come in, including an attack that killed a small dog.

“I’m the one who let Maggie out — from the letting her out to when it happened was less than 30 seconds,” said Lori Quaggiotto, whose 1-and-a-half-year-old Yorkie was killed by a coyote in June.

Another dog in LaSalle was badly injured after a run-in with a coyote on Bouffard Road.

Quaggiotto pressed council for action on Tuesday night and stressed coyotes in the area are becoming more brazen and active during all parts of the day — not just at night.

Council is now beginning the steps to put residents at ease, beginning with a public meeting with Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry officials. The meeting is likely to take place in the fall.

Quaggiotto hopes action happens sooner rather than later, as she worries children could be at risk.

“My biggest concern is children and babies and adults and humans,” said Quaggiotto. “I don't think it's 'if it's going to happen' I think it's 'when it's going to happen.'”

LaSalle deputy mayor Crystal Meloche says council understands the fear some residents have and feels the public meeting will be productive.

“Everyone’s on high alert right now and it’s because it’s fresh,” said Meloche, who feels some simple strategies could help. “We can remind people what’s going on — remind people to clean up after your dogs, put the garbage away, don’t feed stray cats,” said Meloche.

While council received a report on the coyote problem on Tuesday, council didn’t approve any by-law changes or any other concrete program to address the coyote population in the town.

Meloche says there isn’t a lot the town can do.

“I know it wasn’t what residents were looking for tonight, but we can’t just turn around and say, ‘Let’s get rid of coyotes,’” said Meloche. “We know that’s not something that’s going to happen in the town of LaSalle.”

Council also considered a working committee to address concerns related to coyotes along with potential by-law changes to mandate larger fence sizes and hard-sided garbage container use.