Bear, coyote and cougar sightings reported in Leeds and Thousand Islands

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Residents of Leeds Township and the Thousand Islands (TLTI) are reporting sightings of bears and cougars in addition to coyotes that have plagued the area for several years now.

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“Spring means animals are on the move,” the township said in a recent statement. “Residents report sightings of bears and cougars in the township. For emergency encounters with bears, coyotes or cougars, contact 911 immediately.

If you encounter one of these animals, try to stay calm. Do not try to approach them and do not try to feed them. A female with her young is particularly dangerous because she will do whatever she has to to protect them. Do not run away from animals or turn your back on them – these behaviors convince animals that you are prey. Instead, stand up straight and back up slowly if possible, allowing animals to escape from you. Don’t try to make eye contact with them. Do not show your teeth – this is a sign of aggression and can provoke an attack. In most cases, if you don’t threaten them or show interest in them, they will leave.

Specific behaviors also apply, depending on the animal. For bears, throwing objects or yelling and making noise are all good deterrents. If you are carrying food, drop it and back off. Only in the case of a mother with young should you consider playing dead. If you know bears are in your area, consider keeping bear spray on hand and using it as needed.

For any wild cats – bobcats, bobcats, or cougars – making yourself look bigger than you are often works. If the animal does not back away or begins to approach you, it may help to yell and throw things.

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As for the coyotes, keep your distance from them and they will most likely avoid you.

It is best to prevent your property from becoming attractive to these animals. Do not put fish, meat or dairy products in your composter. Thoroughly clean garbage cans with a strong-smelling cleaning agent like ammonia, and don’t throw away edible waste unless it’s picked up immediately. Keep pet food collected and inside the house and keep your pets indoors at night to protect them from attack. Spaying your dogs will help keep them from becoming attractive to coyotes (which will breed with domestic dogs). Use motion sensor lighting for yards and buildings.

If it becomes necessary, contact the municipality at 613-659-2415, toll free: 1-866-220-2327 or 1-855-961-7018 after hours, and inform them of the type of animal that you have seen/encountered and follow their instructions. Not all sightings require action, and knowing how to behave appropriately can help prevent property damage, injury, and even death.

“To report sightings in your area, please contact the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry,” the statement said. The ministry can be contacted at 1-877-847-7667.


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