Coyotes in the city
Although Canada has a rich history, people do not usually come here to admire its historic cities, as they often do in other parts of the world, from Great Britain over Iraq to Japan. Instead, Canada is known all over the world for its large expanses and breathtakingly beautiful nature.
That should not come as a surprise, since most of the country is essentially uninhabited. The large majority of the population lives in a small ribbon not much wider than a 100 km along the American border.
Cities in this region are modern, highly industrialised and urbanised, and nature often seems as far away as it would be in any European city. Make no mistake, however. Nature is often surprisingly close, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Canada’s largest city, Toronto.
Although it is possible to live in Toronto, and hardly see anything besides streets, houses, high-rises and the occasional manicured city park or parkette, real nature is usually only steps away for those who are looking for it, thanks to Toronto’s so-called urban wildernesses. Wildlife uses those wildernesses to navigate throughout the city, largely unseen by humans.
This wildlife sometimes spills over into parts of the city populated by humans. Even for the most occasional visitor, squirrels are hard to ignore, but there is more. While tourists will not often encounter raccoons on Bay Street and even less inside the Eaton Centre, they are nevertheless here, and even in such large numbers, that world-renowned zoologist David Suzuki  called Toronto the world’s raccoon capital in the documentary Raccoon Nation .
An animal that most people would probably not expect to have a close encounter with on Toronto’s streets, is the coyote or prairie-wolf. These animals are nevertheless known to live and breed successfully in Toronto’s parks, such as the internationally recognised Tommy Thompson Park .
It was precisely on my way home from that park that I had a very personal encounter with a coyote. I was bicycling home when I met a coyote on the bike path. It was an encounter so close that I had to actually zoom out to be able to take pictures when it approached me. A warning is in its place here: this was an experience that squarely belongs into the do-not-do-this-at-home category.
Although coyotes are normally very timid creatures that avoid humans whenever possible, they can and sometimes do attack humans , and not all these attacks are survived by the victims.
In this case, the wise thing to do would have been to cross the street as soon as I saw the animal. I did not. That was not smart, because when the animal came closer, we were essentially trapped together, and had to pass each other at about 1 metre distance before it became possible to get further away again.
It seems clear, also from the pictures and the video I took, that the animal was merely travelling from where it came to where it was going and had no aggressive intentions, just like me, but an encounter like this can indeed turn ugly very easily.
While unnerving, the encounter was –of course- a wonderful experience. Due to the low light conditions, the pictures and the video are not as sharp as they could have been, but they certainly give a good impression of this beautiful beast, that is sadly still hunted for its fur .
 David Suzuki’s biography, David Suzuki Foundation, retrieved 1 April 2012
 Raccoon nation, Canadian Broadcasting Company, retrieved 1 April 2012
 Mammals of Tommy Thompson Park, retrieved 1 April 2012
 Attacks on humans, Wikipedia, retrieved 1 April 2012
 Coyote fur blanket, the Bay, retrieved 1 April 2012