Experts trying to find, trap possibly sick coyote in Nepean: 5 reports of possible coyote sightings in Nepean since Oct. 31

CBC News Posted: Nov 05, 2014 2:13 PM ET

Fox with mange. Mange is highly treatable.

Mange is highly treatable. The fox on the left is shown with mange, and the image on the right is the same fox three weeks into treatment at the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. (Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary)

People in Nepean have spotted what could be a sick coyote exhibiting strange behaviours along Hunt Club Road, and wildlife experts are trying to catch it.

Dan Montag was biking along Hunt Club between Woodroffe Avenue and Merivale Road on Friday afternoon when he saw a coyote in the westbound bike lane.

He biked to the side to avoid hitting the animal, but as he passed it the coyote turned around and nipped at him.

“I could feel the mouth on the leg,” Montag said. “I’ve been bitten by a dog and I know how a dog bite feels that would actually break the skin. This wasn’t the case. I could feel it grasp but the teeth didn’t go in.”

Police couldn’t find the animal after Montag reported the incident.

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, meanwhile, said it’s received five calls about a possible coyote in the area since Friday.

Reports suggest the animal has mange, a canine skin infection that can be easily treated.

“The impact that it has on the animal is that it becomes weak, it doesn’t forage [as well], it can’t hunt [as well], it starts to exhibit different behaviours,” said Heather Badenoch, a volunteer board member with the sanctuary.

“So that’s why the reports are that they’ve seen the animal … during the day and that’s because it’s looking for food.”

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is trying to trap and treat the animal.

Brent Patterson, of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, said healthy coyotes are scared of people and generally stay away from them.

There are a few possible explanations for the animal’s behaviour, Patterson added. The animal may have become accustomed to people and may associate them with food from insecure garbage or feeding. It may also be a late-year puppy leaving its territory for the first time.

Patterson said people in the area should store their garbage safely and refrain from feeding wild animals.