By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
A series of coyote encounters has the Town of Coaldale urging residents to be careful.
As Coaldale is located in a more rural setting, it is not uncommon to see wildlife around the town. However, in the period of March to June, coyotes sightings tend to spike, as at this time of year they are raising pups and need to provide for them.
“We experience sightings quite a bit, on kind of the, I guess, the peripheries of the town, just because we’re surrounded by a lot of farmland, a lot of good habitat for the coyotes to live in,” said Clayton Rutberg, deputy fire chief of public safety. “If people are out and about, kind of in the outskirts (of town), they can definitely see them. So it’s not abnormal to see them, but we don’t usually have a lot of encounters with them. But at this time of year, they’re having their pups, so they’re a little bit more aggressive, territorial, looking for food, that type of thing, so they’re a little more active at this time of the year.
“A lot of the areas that they come into that are in urban areas are similar to rural areas, so they’re not really any different (from coyotes that stay in rural areas). The biggest things is they just have more interactions with us as people, so we just have to make sure that they are not quite as comfortable with us, a little more scared of us, so that they’re a little less likely to attack.”
As coyotes are more active, the chances of encounters increases. This year, numerous sightings have reported, with one encounter resulting in the death of a dog.
Rutberg said a few weeks ago, a resident had been walking his dogs northwest of the Birds of Prey Centre, when a coyote came up and grabbed an off-leash dog, ultimately killing the dog. The resident and his two other dogs were not harmed in the attack.
Fish and Wildlife investigated the incident, and determined that no actions were needed to deal with coyotes at the time. All other encounters in town this year resulted in the coyotes being scared off and reacting “appropriately to our behaviour”.
If they encounter a coyote, a person should ensure that the experience is an unpleasant one for it and it feels unwelcome. Make yourself look physically larger by waving your hands overhead or thrusting a long object, such as a stick, at them, and throwing objects at them, and shouting in a deep voice with maintained eye contact are other things you can do.
If a coyote approaches, back away slowly and head toward building or human activity if they continue to approach. Do not turn away or run, as the coyote will be encourage to chase you. Never approach a coyote, and do not leave food out for them, and ensure you clean up after yourself when outside, so they are not attracted to a potential source of food.
The town encourages residents to keep their cats indoors and don’t let them roam around outside. Supervise your pets when they are outside, and pick up dog feces, and be aware that dog urine may attract coyotes. If your dog is in heat, keep them inside or away from areas where they may attract coyotes.
When you walk your dogs, keep them on a leash. In the event you do encounter a coyote, pick up your small dog and ensure your large dog is leashed and under control before backing away slowly and leave the area immediately.
“If your out with a pet, make sure it’s on a leash,” said Rutberg. “Making sure that you make it unpleasant for the animal, shouting at it, you know, appear aggressive, keep eye contact, those types of things, just so it scares the animal off.
“Most of the time, it’s a natural thing for us to be seeing them. It’s if they become aggressive, instances such as the one where the gentleman’s dog was killed, those can be reported through the Report-A Poacher line.”
If you encounter an aggressive coyote, contact the Report-A-Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800. For more safety information, https://www.alberta.ca/coyotes.aspx.