While they may look cute now, officials with the city are warning residents to keep their distance from a litter of coyote pups and their parents who have settled into a rock wall in the community of Arbour Lake.
When media visited the scene on Friday, nine pups could be seen playing and nipping at each other on the grass and large rocks. Fencing and caution tape was put up as a barrier between the coyotes and any humans that may get too close.
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“They’re behaving normally,” said Chris Manderson, urban conservation lead with Calgary Parks. “Mum is as being defensive as she should be.
“Getting close isn’t going to help the situation. We don’t want to stress the animals out, obviously, but also equally important is we don’t want to get them comfortable with humans being around and if we do we crowd them, they may start to get used to that.”
Manderson went on to say the activity and adventurousness of the pups suggests they’ve been awake for a while and have been staying inside the den up until recently. He added the den is likely a warm place for them to stay as it’s on a south-facing slope and has large boulders.
Manderson said he doesn’t expect the coyotes to stay in the Arbour Lake den for an overly long time, adding the animals often move their dens two to three times in a season.
“Our hope is that they may move on to a more secluded spot once the pups get older,” Manderson said.
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He said having the city move the den is not an option, as it would open the animals up to a variety of risks, including disease transmission or putting them into another animal’s territory.
Manderson said giving space and reducing any attractants — like food — are the best ways to manage coyotes. If that doesn’t work, officials would look at hazing if the animals become a problem. Euthanization is a last resort, he said.
“It’s right on the side of a busy street,” Manderson said, adding that the location is a bit of a concern.
He said coyotes have “figured out how to live among us” in the city.
“We have hundreds of coyotes here in the city of Calgary. Most of the time people don’t see them because they’ve really figured out the city life,” Manderson said. “So this is an example where we sort of got a front row seat on coyotes doing their thing in the spring.”
Manderson said officials don’t yet have an estimate of the exact coyote population in the city, but said there are “many hundreds” of them. He said the animals are one of the city’s top predators, adding that they help to control the vole, mouse and rabbit populations.