Coyotes and humans can coexist in Stony Plain
Coyote-sightings becoming more common in community
The Town of Stony Plain has received several calls from concerned citizens who have witnessed coyotes in their neighbourhoods. Coyotes have always lived in or around our community, but most like most wildlife, these beautiful creatures prefer to stay far away from humans.
Although coyotes have a natural fear of humans, these animals may become defensive and attack if protecting food or a den. Cases of coyote attacks on people usually involve a coyote that has been fed by humans. Coyotes will generally steer clear of humans, unless they learn that people are a source of food or shelter. If a coyote frequents your neighbourhood, it's because it has found shelter or food.
Serious conflicts between people and coyotes are rare; however, all wildlife is unpredictable, and coyotes can pose a public risk. Coyotes are not usually aggressive toward humans but can become bolder around people when they learn backyards, playgrounds, or parks can provide them with easy meals. The likelihood of a problem encounter increases if coyotes are fed by people, as they lose their natural fear of humans. Human behaviour can encourage coyotes to challenge us.
Coyotes enrich our community and play a natural, beneficial role in the food chain, eating mice and other small rodents. As our town grows, more wildlife habitat is lost; consequently, more coyotes and other wild animals have chosen to hunt for food sources and shelter in residential areas. Coyote behaviour is evolving: unfortunately, these animals are eating garbage, fruit and pet food; all readily accessible in our neighbourhoods.
Coyotes are part of the dog family, with very long legs, oversized pointed ears and large bushy tails with black tips. An average adult coyote weighs between nine and 14 kg and is just over one metre long, from nose-tip to the tip of its tail. Coyotes have light grey or tan coats and slim-pointed muzzles.
Coyotes are territorial and could consider your dog a threat. They may try to draw a dog away and attack it to eliminate the threat. Keeping your dog on a leash at all times is the best way to ensure its safety. The Town’s Animal Control Bylaw prohibits owners from allowing their pets to roam unsupervised. By permitting your pets to roam free outside of your property, you provide opportunity for a potentially serious encounter between your pet and a coyote.
Pet owners are encouraged not to leave small pets or pet food out in their yards and not to walk dogs off-leash in areas frequented by coyotes – especially in Spring. Never leave garbage where coyotes and other wild animals can access it. Coyotes are attracted to fruit fallen from trees and bird seed spilled from feeders; be sure to pick up both off the ground.
Citizens who witness coyotes on their properties or in their neighbourhoods are asked to contact the local Fish and Wildlife office of Alberta Sustainable Resource Development at 780.960.8190. For more information about coyotes, visit www.srd.alberta.ca/ManagingPrograms/FishWildlifeOfficers/HumanWildlifeConflict/Coyotes.aspx.