Edmonton’s river valley and ravine system is the largest urban park in North America, and serves as a corridor for movement of wildlife regularly through the area. As one of alberta's native wildlife species, coyotes have a natural and beneficial role as scavengers who can also help manage rodent and small mammal population within the city itself.
Coyotes are part of the dog family but generally have longer legs, oversized pointed ears and large bushy tails with black tips. An average adult coyote weighs 9 to 14 kilograms and is just over a metre long from nose tip to the tip of their tail. Coyotes have light grey or tan coats of variable lengths and slim pointed muzzles.
Photo by Shawn McCready
Why are Coyotes Living in the City?
Coyotes have long existed alongside humans and have adapted to live within population centers because of the opportunities they present to foraging scavengers. As our city grows and expands into traditional wild habitat, more coyotes are adapting to food sources in residential areas eating readily available backyard food sources such as garbage, fruit and pet food.
Coyotes and Pets
Coyotes can be territorial and could consider your dog a threat. Coyotes may try to draw a dog away and attack it to eliminate the threat. Keeping your dog close on a leash at all times is the best way to ensure its safety.
The City of Edmonton's Animal Licensing and Control Bylaw requires owners to prevent their cats and dogs from roaming free and unsupervised off of their property. By permitting your pets to roam free outside of your property, you provide the opportunity for a potentially serious encounter between your pet and a coyote.
Are Coyotes Dangerous?
Coyotes naturally hunt rodents and small mammals such as rabbits or hares, in addition to being opportunistic feeders who may consume garbage, fruit or even insects. As such, coyotes do not look at humans as prey, and are generally afraid of us, although urban coyotes can become desensitized to human activity or presence. Coyotes perceive humans as being providers or resources they can exploit and it is common to see increased presence in neighbourhoods during garbage days or when garbage is placed out and easily accessible beforehand.
Coyotes do not pose a threat to humans and the extremely rare cases of physical contact are almost always as a direct result of feeding/desensitization. Coyotes have a weaker bite than wolves, foxes, most dogs and even humans!
To avoid conflict with coyotes, follow these simple steps:
- Don't feed coyotes
- Secure your garbage in a protected container
- Clean up fallen fruit and spilled bird seed
- Keep pet food inside
- Keep your dog on-leash in areas frequented by coyotes
- Don't leave a small dog out in the yard unattended for long periods of time
- Don't leave cats out roaming
When to Report a Coyote
It's only necessary to report a coyote if:
- The coyote has followed, chased or attacked someone or a pet
- The coyote is acting aggressively or defensively
- The coyote is injured and immobile
When an incident with a coyote is reported, the City will investigate and determine if a problem exists. Depending on the circumstances, different courses of action will be taken. This could include public education, posting warning signs that a coyote has been seen in the area, or coyote removal.