A Fort Saskatchewan dog walker is alerting others to brazen coyotes in the area.
Lindsay Gabert, the owner of Fort Dog Fit, was walking a client's dog near the boat launch at West River's Edge last week when she turned around to see a coyote standing a short distance from her. Gabert explained that she is used to coyote presence around town. However, she became unnerved when unsuccessful attempts were made to scare it away.
"I ran at her and yelled, and all she did was hunch her back and show her teeth to me, and she started coming at me almost sideways," she explained. "I was like, oh shoot; she's not acting like a normal coyote."
After recalling a radio program she'd heard about coyote encounters, Gabert became the "scariest version of herself" in fear of the coyote attacking the 80-pound dog she was walking. She continued to scream and charge at the coyote, but each time it retreated, it came right back. Once she reached the main pathway, others came running to help her as they heard her screams.
"One woman threw her water bottle at [the coyote], and so altogether we kind of retreated, but the entire time [the coyote] was following us through the grass, but she wasn't getting as close as she was when it was just me and the dog."
After several minutes, the coyote was finally scared off for good by a city truck driving through the area. As a result, she hopes to see more public education so other people can avoid a similar experience.
"We're always going to exist near them -- I think we're going to have more negative interactions if the general public doesn't know how to act in situations."
Gabert also noted that there might be a den in the area from what she heard from other residents and their interactions with the coyotes.
As coyotes lose their natural fear of humans when fed, the likelihood of a negative encounter increases. It is rare for coyotes to be aggressive toward humans, but they can become more aggressive when they learn that backyards, playgrounds, or parks provide easy food sources. Alberta Fish and Wildlife offers these tips when encountering an urban coyote:
- Make the experience unpleasant for the animal. Make it feel unwelcome in your neighbourhood. Even if you are not concerned about problems with coyotes, they should not feel comfortable around us or our homes.
- Respond to their presence aggressively by making yourself appear large; wave your arms overhead or thrust long objects, such as a walking stick, toward the coyote.
- Throw rocks, sticks or other objects toward the animal.
- Shout in a deep voice and maintain eye contact.
- If the coyote continues to approach, back away slowly and move toward buildings or human activity.
- Do not turn away or run. This may encourage the coyote to chase you.
- Dog repellants and pepper spray products can be effective in deterring coyotes.