It’s not a super uncommon sight in west Lethbridge, but coyote sightings seem to be on the rise.
Joy and Charles Warren, who live in the area of Riverstone, said they and neighbours have spotted at least two of the wild animals frequenting the area in recent weeks.
The animals have reportedly been seen near school bus stops and near cyclists.
“Every morning we see the coyote walking on the sidewalk, it’s now heading up to St. Patrick’s school,” Joy said. “We don’t want the coyote harmed, but we don’t want a child or a dog harmed.”
“Those trees back there, I’ve seen them a few times in there,” pointed out Darrel Rosaine, who takes daily walks in the area.
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The Warrens said they called Alberta Fish and Wildlife, the city and police to report the sightings.
The Lethbridge Police Service provided Global News with a statement explaining its role in situations such as these.
“LPS responds to reports of wild animals posing a safety risk to the community only when there is an immediate threat to members of the public,” the statement read.
“In these cases, police will attend the location, assess the situation and take appropriate action to protect citizens. In cases where someone is facing imminent danger as a result of a wild animal, call 911. If there is no immediate threat to public safety, but citizens have concerns about wild animals within the city limits, they should contact Alberta Fish and Wildlife for further assistance.”
The City of Lethbridge confirmed the Animal Services department recently placed a sign on Riverstone Blvd. W, alerting the community to the presence of the animals.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife lists a variety of information pertaining to coyotes on its website, including reasons why removing the animals from cities has failed in the past.
The coyote, a species of canine weighing between nine and 14 kilograms, feeds on rabbits, mice, and squirrels, the website explains.
But why might they be venturing away from their dens and into a neighbourhood?
Curtis Goodman, the resource development coordinator at the Helen Schuler Nature Centre, explained coyotes typically give birth to their pups in May.
“This also means there’s an uptick in the amount of food that they’re going to need to sustain their family,” he said. “So they’re looking a little bit further and wider for all different types of food source and of course their primary diet is going to be rodents.”
Goodman encourages residents, especially those who live adjacent to natural spaces such as the coulees, to be very aware of how their actions could be attracting the animals, such as leaving out food scraps or pet food.
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It’s also important to keep cats inside and dogs on a leash.
“Cleaning up your backyard, making sure that it’s tidy, that you’re not attracting rodents in, that will then also attract the coyotes seeking that food source out,” he said.
“Providing we’re doing everything we can to deter coyotes from finding those resources that they need close to humans, we can coexist peacefully.”
If you do encounter a coyote, it’s recommended you make the interaction uncomfortable for the animal and not to run away. Tips include yelling in a low voice, maintain eye contact and throwing rocks or sticks at the animals.
More resources and information can be found on the Government of Alberta website.
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