Wanted: Acme lawyer | Marcel Strigberger

By Marcel Strigberger

Law360 Canada (December 16, 2022, 2:32 PM EST) --
Marcel Strigberger
Marcel Strigberger
What big teeth you have. Lawyers get ready for action. I am talking about the large presence of coyotes in my Thornhill, York Region, neighbourhood. 

Until not long ago the only four-legged creatures we would see out and about in this Toronto suburb would be squirrels, raccoons and dogs. And the latter are usually tethered to a leash at the end of which is their owner talking on a cell phone. Suddenly a congregation of coyotes has migrated to the area. They scare me as they look like wolves. And being a baby boomer, I grew up on a diet of stories depicting wolves as carnivores, not too choosy as to what or for that matter whom they devour.

I decided to call my municipality to see what they could do about these new guests. At least I would put them on notice of a potential disaster claim. It took me a while to find the right department. I pressed a number of prompts but did not hear an option for something like, “push seven if you are concerned about ending up a coyote’s lunch.”

Eventually I reached a gentleman, one Randolph, who I sensed tried to mollify my concerns. He told me coyotes are natural inhabitants of the ecosystem. We should learn to co-exist with them. I reminded him what happened to Red Riding Hood’s grandmother. He insisted though coyotes may look like wolves, they are not lupines. This information was about as comforting as telling someone lost in the Florida Everglades not to worry about crocodiles as those mean looking reptiles are actually alligators. 

And they were not lone coyotes. When I expressed concern over the number of these howling creatures I saw in the park near my house, he explained coyotes were territorial, meaning their clans consist of about a dozen or so members, and they exclude newcomers. This too did not give me much comfort as if I wanted to take my grandson to the park’s sandbox, I didn’t care to have a coyote come by with a small shovel and pail and tell me, “beat it.”

Randolph added that it was the province, Forestry and Natural Resources department, rather than the municipality which might be responsible for coyote management. I reminded him I lived in a cookie cutter city development, not the Amazon. 

After the call I emailed him saying something like, “I appreciate your reassuring words. However, you are on notice that all responsible parties will be facing a legal action should one of these wolf-like creatures bite anybody or worse” I thought about those three little pigs. I was not overly concerned about a coyote huffing and puffing and blowing my house down. However, if that were to happen I would also make a claim against my builder.

I do think Randolph took my warning about a potential claim against the municipality seriously. Shortly thereafter a sign popped up at the park, bearing a picture of a coyote, and entitled,

“Keeping coyotes away. What to do if coyote approaches you.”

The sign listed some important pointers, such as:

“STOP: Pick up children and small pets if necessary.”

If necessary? I suppose at that point a parent has to think about whether or not this is a good time to get even with his or her pesky kid.

Other suggestions were, “Never run away from a coyote … Be loud and assertive … clap your hands.” I wonder about that latter suggestion. The coyote might interpret the hand clapping as applause. “Thank you, sir. Don’t mind if I do take off with your schnauzer.”

The sign also recommended using a noisemaker, such as a party horn or pots and pans banged together. I did not read on, but it would not surprise me if another suggestion was when you walk through the park, try to get an escort from a platoon of the pipes and drums band of the Black Watch. That certainly might make Wile E. Coyote stop and think.

I note there are issues with these animals in many parts of Canada. The potential for major legal actions is looming. Maybe even a class action. I am not just crying coyote.

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. His book Boomers, Zoomers, and Other Oomers: A Boomer-biased Irreverent Perspective on Aging is now available in paper and e-book versions where books are sold. Visit www.marcelshumour.com. Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

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