On a cold, bleak day, off the shore of Toronto Harbour, a dark-coloured coyote can be seen trotting across the ice.
The adventurous canine was caught in an Instagram video posted Tuesday traversing the ice, with the Toronto skyline in the background.
“Coyote spotting is a favourite pastime around here,” wrote Tristan Hamburgh, the videographer, on his Instagram post.
Wildlife experts say coyotes often use large patches of ice to travel. A coyote’s territory can be two to three square kilometres, so it’s not inconceivable that they may need to venture across straits or rivers.
“They have to cross from A to B sometimes in the wintertime,” said Nathalie Karvonen, executive director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre.
Coyotes themselves are relatively shy – and mostly harmless – but they are quite commonly found within urban areas.
“There are coyotes all throughout the Greater Toronto Area,” Karvonen said. Many of them take up residence in ravines, parks, quiet industrial areas, or even residential neighborhoods.
The number of coyotes on the Toronto Islands themselves has never been studied, she added. But reports suggest that coyotes have lived on the Islands since 2010, when residents began noticing that stray cats in their neighbourhood kept disappearing.
Coyotes have a huge tolerance for both heat and cold. Temperatures, for instance, need to drop below minus 20 before they need to expend extra energy keeping warm.
A harsh winter tends to favour coyotes because it weakens prey less suited to severe cold. By contrast, a mild winter generally makes it harder for coyotes to live off their traditional prey in parks and ravines, driving them ever closer to humans in search of food.
Coyote populations in Ontario are thought to be a hybrid of the western coyote and the eastern wolf. The resulting eastern coyote is larger than its western counterparts, even though its DNA remains overwhelmingly coyote.
With files from Kenneth Kidd