EDMONTON — Since it started collecting data in 2010, the Edmonton Urban Coyote Project says it’s seen a steady increase in the number of reported coyote sightings in the city.
Colleen Cassady St. Clair, a biological sciences professor with the University of Alberta, says the number of reported coyote sightings, observations and encounters has increased by about one and a half times per year.
More than 2,300 sightings have been reported since the project launched. Some seasons, researchers say they receive an average of four reports per day.
While the sightings appear to have increased, St. Clair says the numbers can be interpreted in several different ways.
“I think it’s quite possible that there hasn’t been a rise in the number of coyotes; but there could be a change in the coyote’s behaviour, their willingness to let themselves be seen,” said St. Clair. “It’s also quite possible that people are much better at spotting coyotes.
“It could mean that the coyotes that are in Edmonton, the same numbers that have been over time, are getting bolder.”
St. Clair says seasonal changes could also play a role in the number of reports they receive.
“With the leaves coming off and the days getting shorter people are active more at the time that coyotes tend to be most active.”
While St. Clair believes coyotes do not pose a threat to Edmontonians, residents should be aware.
“If people are a bit more on the lookout for coyotes it’ll be easier for them to keep themselves and their pets safe. And it’s kind of thrilling to see a little medium-sized carnivore running around the city that you share space with.”
St. Clair recommends pet owners keep their animals on a leash, especially if they’re near a ravine or natural area.
By some estimates, there are upwards of 400 coyotes in the city, with most dwelling in the Edmonton River Valley. They tend to come out at night or early morning and can travel up to 20 kilometres a day searching for food.
For more information on coyotes, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.