Wildlife

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raccoon and black bear

Wildlife such as coyotes, raccoons, skunks and foxes are common in Georgina and York Region. These animals can be found in forests, trails and parks, and may even be seen in neighbourhoods. Nature is often closer than you think.

Animal Services will address general wildlife complaints within the Town, provided that the injured wildlife is located on Town-owned property. Residents should contact private wildlife companies to deal with healthy wildlife causing a nuisance on private property. 

If you see a sick or injured wild animal, call Aurora Animal Services at 1-877-979-7297 (PAWS). If calling after hours, press “1” to reach the after-hours dispatch team.

Feeding wildlife is the primary cause of animal/human conflict. Directly or unintentionally feeding a wild animal will increase its tolerance to people and pets as they begin to associate people with food. Prevent wildlife becoming a nuisance by removing items from your property that might be perceived as shelter, and limit food and water sources. This will encourage wildlife to go elsewhere. For example, fencing gardens, securing garbage and compost, and not allowing stagnant water to pool.

Pet owners:

  • Supervise your pets when they are outside. Keep your pets safely on a leash.
  • Make sure your dogs and cats have up-to-date rabies vaccinations. You are required by law to vaccinate all cats, dogs, and ferrets over the age of three months.
  • Do not feed or handle wildlife.
  • Never transport or relocate wildlife.

Learn more

Feeding wildlife: do's and don'ts (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry)

For wildlife rabies surveillance and control zones, visit ontario.ca/rabies.

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Canine distemper

Canine distemper is a virus that affects domestic dogs gastrointestinal, respiratory and central nervous systems as well as the conjunctival membranes of the eye. Distemper is common throughout the canine family, which includes coyotes, foxes, skunks and raccoons, and is very contagious.

Raccoons typically carry a strain of distemper that is transmissible to canine species including domestic pets such as dogs and ferrets. It is common to see increased cases of distemper in large raccoon populations and it is more prevalent in juveniles than adults.

Distemper in raccoons starts slowly, initially appearing as an upper respiratory infection, with a runny nose and watery eyes developing into conjunctivitis. The raccoon may be thin and debilitated, and suffer from diarrhea. In the final stage of the disease, the raccoon may begin to wander aimlessly in a circle, disoriented and unaware of its surroundings, stumbling and may even fall over. Distempered raccoons are often seen during daylight hours, out of their normal nocturnal routine. They may curl up to sleep in open areas in close proximity to people and even approach people or animals. They generally act disoriented or lethargic, but can become aggressive if cornered and exhibit other bizarre behaviour due to brain damage. Ultimately, they suffer paralysis and likely death.

Dogs are susceptible to this highly transmissible disease and are more likely to come in contact with an infected raccoon due to their odd behaviour. It is important to make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccines to protect them from becoming deathly ill. Pet owners should be vigilant in checking their backyard, forest areas, and in leash-free parks before allowing their dog to be off-leash, to avoid coming into contact with wildlife.

Bear sightings

Every year, bear sightings are reported in Georgina. Bears generally want to avoid humans, most encounters are not aggressive and attacks are rare. However, if you feel a bear poses an immediate threat to your personal safety or the safety of others, call 911 or local police.  

When bears are caught off guard, they are stressed, and usually just want to flee.

Stop. Do not panic. Remain calm.

Emergency situations
Call 911 or your local police if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety and exhibits threatening or aggressive behaviour, such as:

  • Enters a school yard when school is in session
  • Stalks people and lingers at the site
  • Enters or tries to enter a residence
  • Wanders into a public gathering
  • Kills livestock/pets and lingers at the site

Police will respond first to an emergency situation, but may request assistance from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry during daylight hours.

Non-emergency encounters
Call the toll-free Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327 (TTY 705-945-7641 ) if a bear:

  • Roams around or checks garbage cans
  • Breaks into a shed where garbage or food is stored
  • Is in a tree
  • Pulls down a bird feeder or knocks over a barbecue
  • Moves through a backyard or field but does not linger

This line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from April 1 to Nov. 30.

Tips for pet owners:

  • Do not leave pet food outdoors, in screened-in areas or porches
  • Leash your dog(s) when walking through communities or out in bear country to reduce the potential of dogs harassing a black bear or of being attacked by one
  • Unleashed dogs may instigate a chase response that may lead the bear back to you
  • Check your yards for the presence of a black bear before letting your dogs out

To learn more about bear safety, visit ontario.ca.