Experts say a string of coyote attacks in Burlington is likely the result of people feeding them

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Experts say a recent string of coyote attacks on humans in Burlington is likely the result of humans intentionally feeding them -- causing the animals to lose their fear of people.

The City of Burlington killed three coyotes it says were responsible for the seven unprovoked attacks since late August and a fourth coyote that was showing aggressive behaviour and a lack of fear of humans.

In response to the rise in coyote encounters, the city formed a task force including police and wildlife control professionals and its council has approved an increase in fines for residents caught feeding wildlife or failing to keep their properties clear of debris.

The city, its mayor and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have repeatedly urged residents not to feed wild animals, intentionally or unintentionally.

Colleen St. Clair, a biological sciences professor at the University of Alberta, says each time she's investigated rashes of coyote attacks, she's found firsthand evidence that they were accessing human food.

She says coyotes could also be getting food left out inadvertently, including garbage, bird seed and, during this time of year, fruit that's fallen on the ground.