Coyote attack prompts warning for pet owners

EDMONTON – Residents, and particularly pet owners, in southwest Edmonton are a bit shaken up after a coyote attack in the area Thursday night.

“I’ve had encounters myself and it’s quite frightening,” said Brad, who was out with his dogs at the Terwillegar dog park Friday. ‘They’ve provoked my other dogs and I’ve seen them around the neighbourhood.”

On Thursday night, an Edmonton woman was walking her three dogs in the area when she was surrounded by a pack of coyotes.

The coyotes went after the smallest of the dogs, chasing it onto the ice. The woman followed the animals, but fell down a 20-foot embankment. After calling 911, she and her dog were rescued.

The pet was taken to a veterinary clinic with unknown injuries. The woman was not injured in the ordeal, nor were her other two dogs.

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READ MORE: Woman’s dog attacked by coyotes while walking in southwest Edmonton

While the exact coyote population in Edmonton is not known, experts estimate it’s around 600. Maureen Murray, a PhD student with the Edmonton Urban Coyote Project, says at this time of year coyotes are particularly territorial.

“Coyotes are about to have their pups. So by now, they probably have their dens picked out, they’re getting them set up. They’re kind of choosing where they’re going to have their pups, so they’re starting to get more and more territorial.”

In order to protect your pets from potential coyote attacks, Fish and Wildlife officers suggest keeping a close eye on your animals — especially the smaller ones — this time of year.

“When the animals get hungry — especially wild animals — they just look at some of these small dogs, they’re the size of a rabbit, and that’s their main food source,” said Fish and Wildlife Officer Francesco Marchet.

“If you’ve got smaller animals, definitely have them on a leash,” he added. “If the little dogs or other dogs go towards them, they will fight their territory.”

Pet owners should not run away from coyotes, and they should not act afraid of the wild animals, Murray added.

“You want to yell at it, you want to make yourself look as big as possible, wave your arms, pick up a big stick. Maybe even throw things at it if it won’t go away,” she suggested.

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“With a really big group it can be certainly very intimidating, but right out of the gate, being really aggressive can go a long way to not being seen as a potential prey.”

While officers are still piecing together what happened Thursday night, Marchet says conflicts between wild animals and pets are not uncommon, and educating those who live near ravines or forested areas is key.

“It’s not effective to go out there and take out the population. We’re not in the business of putting down coyotes for that so we have to learn to live with them,” he explained.

“You have to respect their territory and share the space as the city expands further and further, squeezing them out of their living space,” added Brad.

With files from Ross Neitz, Global News.

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