As our community continues to grow, we expand into the natural territory of many wild animals. As they adapt to their environment, they can be found living in our backyards, in and under our sheds, porches, garages and decks.

Although we do not respond directly to wildlife concerns, we do provide information and reference to external services that would be able to assist.

The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is responsible for addressing wildlife related issues within the province of Ontario. The MNR typically only assigns priority to emergency situations however they can be reached at 1.800.667.1940

Below you will find information on:

  • nuisance wildlife
  • sick, injured or orphaned wildlife
  • public health and rabies

Avian Influenza

Canada Goose walking on grass

With geese and migratory birds starting to return to our area, there have been multiple cases of birds that have been found deceased and are presumed to be infected with Avian Influenza (H5N1), also known as bird flu.  Avian Influenza is a contagious viral infection that can affect domestic and wild birds throughout the world, less commonly infecting mammals. It occurs naturally in wild birds and due to migration, can circulate in this population.

Animal Services staff have recently responded to reports of geese in distress/already deceased in various locations throughout the City. Although Avian Flu has not been confirmed in Pickering, the City is taking precautions consistent with Avian Flu when managing the situation, as the Avian Flu has been detected in neighbouring municipalities.

The City and The Durham Region Health Department are currently monitoring the situation and recommends residents follow the steps below to reduce the spread of Avian Flu in migratory birds:

  • Keep your distance from wild birds and animals - do not feed or handle them
  • Keep cats indoors and dogs on leashes to prevent contact with sick/dead birds  
  • Remove bird feeders/baths from your yards
  • Avoid touching surfaces with bird droppings on them
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching any bird feeders, bird baths or any potentially contaminated areas
  • Stay off all bodies of water due to unsafe water conditions and do not attempt to rescue birds in distress
  • Clean backyard bird feeders and baths regularly using a weak solution of domestic bleach (10% sodium hypochlorite) - rinse well and allow time to dry

The public is asked to report any birds found in distress, ill or dead to Pickering Animal Services at 905.683.7575

If you find a dead bird on your property and choose to dispose of it yourself, ensure that you are wearing gloves and thoroughly wash your hands afterwards.  Deceased birds should be double-bagged and thrown in the garbage

Visit the Durham Region Health Department website for further details. Additional resources, including a Fact Sheet, are available to download from the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative website.

Coexisting with Coyotes 

In partnership with Coyote Watch Canada, the City hosted a virtual Coyote Information Night on May 26th.  If you missed the session, we encourage you to check out the Coyotes in the Urban Landscape E-Learning Module. The module covers basic facts about coyote behaviour and how both animals and people can remain safe. 

Coyote Watch Canada E-Learning Module


Sightings of coyotes are very normal, and much like birds, squirrels, raccoons and other animals, they have found a permanent home in urban areas, including Pickering.  Below are a few measures residents can take for coyotes, wildlife, pets and people to safely and comfortably coexist.

  • Give coyotes space.

  • Discourage their visits to residential yards by installing motion-sensitive lighting, keeping meat products out of compost bins, remembering not to leave pet or human food outdoors, and storing garbage in secure containers.

  • Reduce contact with coyotes by avoiding the areas they frequent, especially at key activity hours during dawn and dusk.

  • If you encounter a coyote, stay calm and let him move on. Do not approach. If you feel threatened, make a loud noise or sudden movement to scare the animal off. Most likely, a coyote that stops to stare is only curious and has no plan to approach or attack. On solitary walks, carry a personal alarm, flashlight and umbrella you can open and close to frighten off a coyote if one does approach.

Coyotes are omnivores and will eat whatever is available such as small mammals and birds, carrion, fruit and improperly stored garbage. The coyote's diet will also change depending on its surrounding environment.


Natural Diet

Small rodents such as mice, groundhogs and rabbits. Also birds, eggs, snakes, turtles, frogs, fish, fruit, plants, carrion and road kill. They are not known to hunt deer but may try to hunt sheep or young calves if in desperate need.

Urban Diet

Garbage that overflows from residential dumpsters or garbage that is carelessly stored outdoors. Garbage often attracts mice and rats, which in turn attracts coyotes and foxes into residential areas.

Outdoor Animals

Cats (allowed outdoors)
Rabbits (confined in pens)
Livestock (poultry and other non-pets)

Animal Services Staff will not investigate calls regarding coyote sightings. However, any sick, injured, or abnormally acting wildlife may be reported to our Customer Care Centre at 905.683.7575 or

For more information on Coyotes and to learn basic facts about natural coyote behaviour, please take the e-learning course created by the City of Toronto and Coyote Watch Canada. The course discusses how both animals and people can remain safe around coyotes.

Further information can be found at or visit the Canadian Association for Humane Trapping (CAHT) website for fact sheets and information on the biology and awareness of coyotes.

Prohibited Species - Eurasian Wild Boar

It is not normal to see pigs, including wild boars running loose. Back in 2021, Animal Services worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources to capture 14 wild pigs.

If you encounter a Eurasian Wild Boar, you should keep your distance and report sightings to or call 1.833.933.2355.

Wild Boar walking in a field

As with all wildlife, the public should always keep a safe distance and please do not attempt to catch or feed any wild animal. By avoiding these wild pigs, you should not be concerned. Residents are advised to report any sightings, and as always, to keep their dogs on-leash and all other animals indoors.

Visit Ontario's website to learn more about Invasive Species in Ontario.

Wild Turkeys

Wild turkeys are being observed more frequently in our neighbourhoods. Wild turkeys are normally shy birds that avoid human activity, however, they can become a nuisance when they become reliant on people for food. 

To avoid encountering wild turkeys always keep your garbage contained, keeps pets on a leash and never feed wildlife, including wild turkeys. 

Wild Turkeys are just like any other wildlife species and should be left alone and watched from a distance. 

Please do not report sightings of healthy wildlife, however please contact Customer Care if you spot an injured animal at 905.683.7575.

Sick, Injured or Orphaned Wildlife

A wild animal usually has a higher chance of survival if left alone. If you feel the animal requires medical treatment contact a certified wildlife custodian for further assistance:


Pickering is fortunate to have fresh water habitats, including creeks, rivers and streams that provide food, water and shelter for many animals and birds, including the beaver. 

Beavers are the largest rodent in North America and are documented to have lived thousands of years ago. They typically live in lodges constructed from branches, mud, and other debris, or in dens dug into the banks of streams or lakes. Beavers are herbivores and consume tree bark, aquatic plants and grasses. To honour its historical significance, the beaver was made an official Symbol of Canada on March 24, 1975.

The City embraces the critical role that beavers play in our ecosystem. Beaver dams help create wetlands and reduce erosion to our waterways, as well as benefit rivers, streams, and local fish populations. These positive aspects make their presence desirable, despite the damage they often do.

Benefits of Beavers

Beaver presence leads to an increase in biodiversity of plant and animal communities. Historically, wetland habitats in the GTA have been reduced by as much as 85%. Wetland habitat is critical to support many species of birds, fish, amphibians and mammals. Once trees have been felled and water levels increase, plant communities undergo significant change, generally becoming more diverse. 

Beaver activity can also lead to improvements in water quality and the storage of water on the landscape improves resiliency to drought. Beaver dams slow the current significantly, leading to sediment deposition and the establishment of aquatic plant communities, many of which help to remove excessive nutrients, sequester heavy metals and other contaminants as well as provide vital resources for wildlife. Impounded water can better permeate the ground and recharge  groundwater. In addition, the deeper pools that are created behind the dam help reduce water temperatures and maintain stream flow during hot, dry summers. 

Beavers reduce the impacts of flooding and erosion by slowing water and storing it on the landscape. By slowing the water, the stream's energy is reduced, thereby reducing it's erosive forces and the damage caused by erosion. Reducing the severity of stream erosion helps to keep our natural systems functional and healthy.

While beavers can certainly create problematic conditions, and are often associated with tree loss and flooded impoundments, where their activity can be tolerated, they are associated with many environmental benefits.  Beavers play a vital role in shaping our landscape and their activity helps improve the diversity and resiliency of our landscape for the future.

How is the City managing Beaver Activity?

When beaver activity is present, City Staff monitor the area, where beavers build their dams, to protect properties from flooding and prevent damage to high value trees.

Staff evaluate each situation individually and takes a collaborative approach across departments to determine the best solution.  To this end, the City focuses on the following:

  1. Identifying the problem: flooding (of homes, parks or roads), tree damage, erosion, dam location, etc.
  2. Identifying the impact: to public safety, to the environment, or to existing wildlife.
  3. Determining best approach to resolve the problem

To reduce beaver activity, staff consider the following measures:

  • Co-existing with beavers, while monitoring their activity
  • Wrapping wire mesh around the base of existing trees (removing their food source will naturally discourage them from becoming established in an area)
  • Planting trees that beavers don’t care for, like bushes, evergreens and hardwoods
  • Installation of flow-through devices such as a beaver baffler (where appropriate)
  • Notching existing dams

In situations where a beaver has been identified a threat to public safety or infrastructure, and other measures to mitigate the situation have been exhausted, the beaver may be trapped and euthanized. Trapping must be done by a licensed trapper, conducted in accordance with approved Ministry of Natural Resources guidelines, and is a final course of action for the City. 

Further information on beavers can be found below:


Adopt a Pond logoDid you know that all native turtles in Ontario are designated by Provincial and Federal legislation as endangered, threatened, and species of special concern? Animal Services has partnered with the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation as well as Parks Canada - Rouge National Park to help further educate residents.

Each year during April - October it is not uncommon to see turtles cross our roads.  During this time turtles are known to travel great distances to find a mate and often nest on the sides of the road. Due to the turtles slow speeds they often become victims of road mortality. Please stay alert, drive slow and watch out for wildlife.

Residents are encouraged to become Citizen Scientists and help us track turtle presence in Pickering as well as all across Ontario. This online app created by Adopt-a-Pond is quick and easy to learn and information gained from reporting sighting will be invaluable to everyone involved. Watch this Video to learn all about Adopt -A-Pond

Reports of injured or dead turtles near Amos Pond (Finch Avenue and Scarborough-Pickering Townline) may be directed to Parks Canada's Turtle Hotline at 416.938.3017. Reporting the exact location helps staff monitor and respond to injured animals and retrieve the deceased.

Injured turtles elsewhere in Pickering may be reported to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre or Animal Services at 905.683.7575.  

Watch this Turtle Time Video video and learn all about the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre and how they help native Turtles.

brake for turtle crossing 

Rodent Control

Urban environments can provide excellent habitats for rodents to survive and thrive. Although the City does not respond to wildlife issues, we do investigate issues relating to overgrown grass and weeds that would encourage rodent activity within a residential area. Please contact our Customer Care Centre at 905.683.7575 to report details if you are concerned about a neighbouring property. Otherwise, please visit the Durham Region Health Department's website for facts about rodent control.

Black Bears

Black bears live throughout most of Ontario, and although primarily inhabit forested areas, they will travel long distances if food is scarce making it possible for them to find their way to Pickering.

Since Spring 2019 the City has received and spotted bears frequenting north Pickering.  In 2023 residents have reported numerous sightings near the Greenwood Trail area near Concession 5, in the Hamlet of Claremont as well as near Concession 8 and Sideline 28.  Based on these numerous reports, we are confident that we do have bears living and/or frequenting our municipality. 

The Ministry of Natural Resources deals with calls regarding bears. They have a Bear Wise program intended to inform you on how to prevent and report black bear sightings.

Bears usually avoid humans, but they are attracted into urban and rural areas in order to get food.

Below are some tips to help minimize your interactions with a bear:
  • Keep your dog on a leash! Uncontrolled, untrained dogs may lead a bear to you
  • Do not leave food or garbage laying around, please use garbage cans provided

  • Stay on the paths and do not wander into forested areas

  • Scan your surroundings and do not wear music headphone
  • Watch for signs of bear activity (ex:, tracks, claw marks on trees, flipped-over rocks or fresh bear droppings)
  • If you see a bear, slowly walk in the opposite direction. Do not run.

In the event of an emergency, please call 911

Further information on bears can be found at 

Protecting our Deer Population (proper fencing)

3 deer in fieldOver the past few years Animal Services has received numerous calls regarding deer being entangled or impaled on wrought iron fencing. The majority of these fences back onto forested areas.

Although wrought iron fences are aesthetically pleasing, and provide an almost clear view to the beauty of the forest behind, some fence designs are more deer friendly than others.

Fencing to Avoid

Avoid fences with spikes, pickets or barbs that protrude above the top bar. Many wrought iron fence designs have decorative spikes on top. Gauging a jump by the uppermost horizontal bar, animals can misjudge the fence height and be lethally caught or impaled on the fence.

fencing examples

What if I already have a fence?

If you already have a fence that is not deer friendly, you may want to consider cutting off pickets above the top horizontal bar, or installing either individual rounded caps over the pickets, or another horizontal bar that tops the pickets all the way across.  Keeping the fence line free of debris on both sides will make it less attractive to the deer to try to jump the fence.

What to do if you see a deer in your yard?

If you do happen to find a deer in your back yard, leave the gate to your yard open, and it will safely find its way out.  Shooing or scaring the deer may result in injury to it or to you. A frightened deer will want to escape and may panic, charging, sometimes through a door or window. The best thing to do is to stay calm, quiet and enjoy the view!       

Nuisance Wildlife

Chipmunk, Coyote, Rabbit, Deer

As well as being illegal to relocate adult wild animals more than 1 km of where you found them, there are many drawbacks to trapping and relocating them:

  • The animal does not usually survive the relocation. When introduced to a new and unfamiliar area, a relocated animal has no idea where to find food, water or shelter, and has to contend with other wildlife defending the territory they already occupy.

  • There is a high risk of causing orphaning of wild babies. The young of the relocated animal are often left behind, and by the time the babies are found, there is no way to re-unite them with their mother who has been relocated to another area.

  • It encourages the spread of diseases such as rabies.

For the "do-it-yourselfer", trapping and performing wildlife removal and animal proofing can be a dangerous undertaking and we feel it is best left to a trained professional. For your safety and the well-being of wildlife, please review the following information about selecting professional services.

Seeking Private Professional Services

Before contacting a private wildlife removal company, Pickering Animal Services advises residents to contact Toronto Wildlife Centre at 416.631.0662 for tips on how to humanely solve and prevent human-wildlife conflicts. If you have already pursued this option and the problem is not resolved, you may want to contact a private wildlife removal company for help.

How to choose a reliable and reputable private wildlife removal company:

  • Check online resources for Animal and Pest Control.
  • Choose a company whose employees seem professional and knowledgeable about various wildlife habitats and behaviours.
  • Speak with the employees; do they appear to care about their work, the animals involved, and the concern of the homeowner? Does the employee take the time to explain what the source of the problem is and its causes and possible solutions?
  • Do they provide more than one recommendation to resolve the problem?
  • Is the company willing to come to the property, examine the problem, and provide an accurate estimate?
  • Choose a company that will provide you with a written estimate indicating all possible costs upfront.
  • Ensure the desired company will allow full payment after the work is complete.
  • Ensure that the company will provide a written guarantee for at least 6 months, and preferably 1 year for both service and any equipment that was installed. You should also be supplied with a warranty from the manufacturer of certain equipment (vents, chimney caps, screens, etc.).

Live Trapping and Relocation, is it Legal?

The most common method of Wildlife Removal is live trapping and relocation. The Ministry of Natural Resources has completed a great deal of research into the impact of relocating wildlife back into our environment. Research has shown that the relocation of wildlife has resulted in premature death for both adults and their young. Relocation was also found to be a key contributing factor for the spread of Rabies and other similar diseases.

In 1999, the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act set a mandate stating that all trapped wildlife must be released within 24 hours of capture and must not be relocated more than 1 kilometre from its capture site.

Before choosing a wildlife company, you will want to find out the following questions pertaining to live trapping and relocation:

  • Do they live trap healthy adult/young animals? If so, where are they released?
  • What does the company do with the animals once they are captured? If they capture young, what precautions are taken to ensure the adult and babies stay together?
  • If the company came upon a sick/injured wildlife, what would they do, where do they take the animal?

In most instances it is inhumane and illegal to relocate wildlife. Repairing and eliminating the attractant and re-releasing the animal where it was found is a better long-term solution for both the resident and the animal. When dealing with young, it is always best to keep the babies with their mother. This will increase their chances of survival. As a consumer, you ultimately have the ability to choose any company you like. Pickering Animal Services suggests that you properly research the credentials, experience, and reliability of any Private Wildlife Removal Company before making a final decision.

Public Health and Rabies

Rabies is an infectious disease that is caused by a virus distributed through various mammals, including wild and domestic animals. The rabies virus is spread from either animal to animal or animal to human through the saliva of an infected animal i.e. bites, scratches, licks on broken skin.

Visit the Region of Durham website for information about rabies, including how to report an animal bite.

Additional information on rabies is provided on the Ministry of Natural Resources website.

Photo Gallery: Wildlife will appear here on the public site.