As of recent, many people in Fort Saskatchewan and the surrounding communities have reported seeing more coyotes in their neighbourhoods.
According to senior conservation biologist Dan Kraus from the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), coyotes have become more noticeable as we are spending more time at home and in local parks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coyotes, in general, are more active during their mating season in the winter. However, spring is when they are searching for dens to rear their pups.
“Early spring is when coyotes are very actively looking for food," said Kraus. "They play an important role in the urban ecosystem by controlling rodent populations and eating carrion."
While coyotes are generally shy and would prefer to avoid confrontations with humans, they can become habituated to people and become aggressive. Like all wildlife, they should only be watched from a distance and never approached.
"It’s an amazing experience to watch a coyote sitting patiently in a meadow or park and then pouncing to capture mice and voles. But unfortunately, coyotes that are injured, starving, young, or have been fed by people can come into conflict with people,” said Kraus.
He offers the following tips to people to keep themselves and their pets safe:
- Feed your pets inside and keep them indoors. Do not leave pets unattended or unprotected outdoors. Keep dogs on a leash when going for walks.
- Make sure garbage, pet food, or compost is not left outside. Keep garbage containers sealed and locked. Close off spaces under porches, decks, and sheds to prevent wildlife from seeking shelter or dens.
With people are eager to get outdoors into the forests and onto some trails. Kraus has good information for people who encounter a coyote or any wildlife:
- Do not approach, do not try to feed, touch, or photograph the animal from close distances.
- If you encounter a coyote and it does not flee, remain calm and slowly back away and leave the area in the direction where you came from. Never run from a coyote, or any wildlife, as it may trigger a predatory response and give chase.
- Use personal alarm devices — such as a whistle, bell, or phone — to frighten or threaten the animal.
- If the animal exhibits aggressive behaviour, then make yourself larger and noisier by raising your arms and voice.
- If, in the rare case, the animal continues to approach, throw rocks or sticks in its direction.
Landowners unable to deal with coyotes that repeatedly show signs of aggression or habituation should contact the police or their local Natural Resources Department.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres).