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Canada City takes steps to address potentially aggressive coyotes in southeast Calgary

20:05  28 november  2019
20:05  28 november  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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A file photo of a coyote © Getty A file photo of a coyote

On a recent walk in Southview Dog Park, Shannon McGee's 75-pound Husky-mix, Phoenix, was playing in the bushes, and her boyfriend was walking nearby. 

"Then he just heard her running and and heard a little yelp and, you know it was all over pretty fast," she said. 

As a coyote slunk away, a puncture wound through Phoenix's paw pad confirmed a bad encounter. 

This was the second such coyote interaction in the same area within a few days. The dog in the first didn't fare as well as Phoenix. 

It was nabbed by a pair of coyotes at the 26th Street off-leash path, and was never recovered.

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McGee said this isn't the first time she or her boyfriend have encountered coyotes recently. 

"About a week ago when we were running on the on the paved Nose Creek pathway on leash … we were followed by a coyote for maybe half-a-kilometre," she said. "We've actually seen one almost every day down on the canal there."

Now, the City of Calgary is warning Calgarians who use the Southview Dog park and nearby off-leash areas to be aware of potentially aggressive coyotes.

The city's urban conservation lead, Chris Manderson, says steps have been taken to warn the public — including the installation of signs at the dog park and along the paths. 

But, they're also monitoring the coyotes.

"We're out there all hours of the day looking for tracks where they're going. what their patterns are, if there's a particular attractant and and also the hazing," he said. 

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"We'll have contractors out there with dogs and with noisemakers and things like that whenever they come across the animal we're putting a bit of hazing pressure on them … essentially reinstalling that natural fear that coyotes have toward humans."

And, according to Manderson, usually hazing is successful at scaring coyotes to stay away from humans. But sometimes it isn't.

"We have, in some cases when we found that the animal is being aggressive it's not responding to to hazing, then we will look at whether or not we should euthanize that animal," he said.

But, Manderson said killing a coyote is not a long-term solution.

"What it does, is it will help us deal with an aggressive animal — but it isn't a good way to control population," he said, adding that it's a last resort.

Long-time Southview Dog Park user, Straja Linder King, said one of her favourite things about coming to the park is seeing the wildlife. 

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"I feel absolutely blessed that we get to see wildlife in the inner city. I get to see coyotes, deer, and I love seeing the fox dens along the canal here," she said.  

a close up of a dog wearing sunglasses and a hat: Shannon McGee's dog Phoenix's paw was bit by a coyote in Southview Dog Park last Sunday. © Provided by cbc.ca Shannon McGee's dog Phoenix's paw was bit by a coyote in Southview Dog Park last Sunday.

And, along with that privilege, Linder King says there is a human responsibility too.

"You definitely have to be aware that we are in a corridor where there is wildlife and if you have small animal companions then it's even more dangerous," she said. "The more isolated areas further down on the pathway can be quite dark at dusk and dawn of course when they're really active."

Linder King said it's important people tell others when they've spotted a coyote or another potentially dangerous animal in the park.

"To me it's always about education and awareness," she said. "But if I had a small dog I truly would not let that dog be off leash unless I was in an open area in full daylight. Not at dusk and dawn."

Manderson said the city encourages Calgarians to report any coyote sightings — and bobcat sightings — to 311 because it helps them better understand their behaviour.

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