- October 16th, 2015 How Torontonians can co-exist with their furry neighbours, even raccoons
- October 16th, 2015 How Torontonians can co-exist with raccoons
- July 22nd, 2015 Durham Region - Humane ways to avoid conflict with wildlife in Durham
- July 15th, 2015 Yahoo News - City dwellers must co-exist with urban wildlife, experts say
- Jun 11th, 2015 City News - Owl rescued from being stuck in soccer net
- May 14th, 2015 Toronto Star - Humans not raccoons are the problem
- April 6th, 2015 CTV - Tips for keeping your home critter free
- April 6th, 2015 Global News - Toronto considering raccoon-resistant green bins
- April 6th, 2015 Newstalk 1010 - Raccoon-proof green bins & expanded blue bins on this week's city agenda
- September 20th, 2014 Inside Toronto - Company helps Scarborough senior solve raccoon problem at no cost
- August 18th, 2014 National Post - Rob Ford makes a new enemy, says he has been in 'standoffs' with fearless raccoons outside his home
- September 26, 2013 PCT Magazine - Humane Urban Wildlife Management: What Does it Really Mean?
- July 25th, 2013 The Star - Racoons: Everything you always wanted to know about them but were too busy cleaning up their mess to ask
- March 8th, 2013 The Star - Trapped Cat Survives Between Floor and Ceiling For 11 Days
- Winter 2012 Condominium Manager Magazine - Protecting Your Green Image
- December 12th, 2011 AAA Gates' Wildlife Control - Choose a Wildlife Control Company Carefully
- October 1st, 2011 The National Post - Toronto's flourishing fauna
- September 23rd, 2011 The Toronto Star - Wildlife vs. the city: Can't we get along?
- August 21st, 2011 AAA Gates' Wildlife Control - Nuisance Wildlife and Municipal Animal Services
- June 8th, 2011 The Grid - All creatures great and small
- May 20, 2011 Toronto Sun - Three albino baby raccoons found
- February 10th, 2011 AAA Gates' Wildlife Control - The Reprecussions of Live Trapping Wildlife
- November 17th, 2010 Eye Weekly - Pop-up possums! Everything you need to know about Toronto's newest immigrants
- September 28th, 2010 AAA Gates' Wildlife Control - Humane Bat Removal
- October 2010 Green Condos - A Guide for Choosing an Ethical and Humane Wildlife Control Company
- Summer 2010 Toronto Life Magazine - Gates' Wildlife Control Voted Best in the City
- July 2nd, 2010 Globe and Mail - The 'Wild West' of wildlife control
- June 15th, 2010 ACMO Tech - Solving Wildlife Problems: Challenges Confronting Property Managers
- May 6th, 2010 The Record - Raccoon in attic led to Kitchener blaze
- February 2nd, 2010 The Toronto Star - City's Coyotes Popping Up Again
- January 14th, 2010 Newmarket Era - Lone coyote roaming around Glenway club
- May 11th, 2009 City TV News - Wildlife Crew Finds Rare Albino Raccoon At Contruction Site
- March 30th, 2009 City TV News - Creature Comforts How To Stop Wildlife From Invading Your Property
- February 24th, 2009 The Toronto Star - Coyote attacks prompt city to take action
- April 24th, 2008 City TV News - Raccoon Fatally Injured After Leg Caught In Barbaric Trap
- August 20th, 2007 City TV News - Raccoon Sways Lamp Post, Crowd
How Torontonians can co-exist with their furry neighbours, even raccoons
We defend them and deride them in equal measure. Here's what the city's doing to minimize wildlife conflict.
MetroNewsBy Staff Torstar News Service | October 15th, 2015
Toronto's relationship with its wildlife is complicated.
We curse the smug raccoon plucking meat off leftover chicken wings like a Roman god in the bottom of our green bins one day, and the next build a vigil when he meets his demise in our traffic. We turn him into memes, paint murals depicting him like Godzilla and collectively shun anyone treating him too harshly. (A shovel? No.) And then we curse him again as the little hedonist brings his friends and rip open every garbage bag on the street, scattering tissues and chip bags everywhere.
We think squirrels are cute, get twitterpated over baby skunks and a fox sighting may be more coveted than Drake on Instagram. Then we curse them all as they scratch our walls, spray our dogs and dig up our flower beds.
Clashes between Toronto's human and wild residents have long existed, but lately it seems as if the critters are getting more numerous. With climate change moving animals toward us, and urban sprawl us towards them, experts suggest the best thing we can do is learn to get along.
The city has no official critter count. And the most recent data, for raccoons, dates back to the 1980s and suggests there are between seven and 12 per square kilometre, and as many as 100 in some areas.
"Anecdotally, it makes sense that wild populations probably are growing, just because the human populations in the city are growing," says Mary Lou Leiher, program manager of Toronto Animal Services, which responds to calls about sick, injured or distressed animals but not wildlife conflict. "As we get more numerous we're providing them with more shelter and food."
When Brad Gates started his wildlife removal business 31 years ago, the average litter size of raccoons, squirrels and skunks was three or four. Today it's six and seven, says the founder of AAA Gates' Wildlife Control. When it comes to raccoons, he suspects the city is "unique."
"I've often heard of Toronto being referred to as the Raccoon capital of North America," he says, adding the number of wildlife removal companies in other cities pale by comparison.
The introduction of the green bin program, he says, has allowed them to breed at a faster rate.
The city's plan
The days of feasting at the bin may be numbered. In April, Mayor John Tory announced that in the city's "fight against the Raccoon Nation" the bins will be replaced, beginning next spring, with ones that are "raccoon-proof."
And this fall a new working group at city hall is starting work on a citywide strategy for mitigating negative interactions between humans and wildlife.
The Inter-Divisional Working Group on Urban Wildlife will consider emerging practices in wildlife management, increasing public awareness about conflict prevention and amending bylaws, such as banning the feeding of wildlife on private property and of pigeons in public spaces. According to city staff report, getting humans to change their behaviour is a more cost-effective and long-term solution than implementing culls or sterilization programs.
"Wildlife conflict has always been an issue," says Leiher, who is part of the working group, which is expected to report back to Licensing and Standards Committee in mid-to-late 2016. "Now we're just ramping up those (public education) efforts."
Nathalie Karvonen, executive director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre, a charitable wildlife rescue organization, welcomes the group's creation. Often, when people get frustrated or angry with wildlife it's not the animal's fault, she says. Instead, the problem can usually be resolved with a pretty easy change in human behaviour.
Karvonen suspects some solutions the group comes up with will be unpopular with some. Possible solutions, she says, could include keeping cats indoors, locking green bins in a shed until the morning of pickup and banning the feeding of wildlife.
In the interim, there are things people can do to minimize conflict with their furry neighbours: Ensure your property is in good repair and garbage is well-managed. And don't leave pet food outside or feed wildlife.