St. Albert residents should keep their pets on leash and their throwing arms ready if they want a peaceful life with urban coyotes, says a University of Alberta biologist.
U of A biologist Colleen Cassady St. Clair will give a free online talk Feb. 8 for Nature Alberta on conflict and coexistence with urban coyotes.
Coyotes are a common sight around St. Albert, as are calls from people concerned about them. One Akinsdale family even had a family of coyotes move in under their home back in 2020.
Coyote sightings have been on the rise in the Edmonton region since 2010, said St. Clair, who runs the Edmonton Urban Coyote Project. A recent analysis by St. Albert undergrad student Jonathan Farr determined that coyotes have become bolder in this region in the last 12 years and are now more likely to approach or make contact with people and pets.
“It’s a problem that’s occurring all over North America,” St. Clair said, and it’s happening because coyotes are learning to associate people with food.
“People don’t realize how many things they have in their yards that attract coyotes,” she said.
Pet food, compost heaps, spilled bird seed, fallen fruit, and wildlife drawn by gardens can all attract coyotes, St. Clair said. Add people, and you can get violence: coyotes have killed pets in Edmonton before and bit 45 people in Vancouver’s Stanley Park last year. Coyote scat is also a health hazard, as it can spread parasitic tapeworms.
St. Clair and her team are testing adverse conditioning techniques on coyotes in Edmonton. By having volunteers yell, chase, shake coin cans, and lob tennis balls at coyotes that approach within 40 metres in urban areas, they hope to teach coyotes to avoid humans.
St. Albert residents can help by shouting at and throwing things at coyotes they see in residential spaces, St. Clair said. They can also secure and clean up attractants such as fallen fruit, compost, or bird seed; keep their pets supervised and on-leash; and plug any obvious holes under their homes a coyote might use as a den. Homeowners can also install rotating tubes called coyote rollers atop their fences to discourage coyotes from jumping over them.
Coyotes that aren’t in residential areas or that keep their distance from people should be left alone, St. Clair said.
“If we’re going to co-exist with coyotes and other urban wildlife, we have to respect their space, too.”
St. Clair’s talk starts at 7 p.m. Visit bit.ly/3KRSTFs for details.