What was meant to be a routine evening walk with her dogs in Edmonton’s Newton neighbourhood on Thursday quickly turned into a tense situation for Michelle Ostermayer.
She was being chased by a coyote that according to her, was not afraid of getting close.
As she ran for help and went to the nearest house, the brazen animal followed her up to the door and stood at the bottom of the steps waiting.
Eventually her neighbour’s husband chased the animal away, allowing her and the dogs to return home.
“These coyotes are getting brave now… usually they would walk away and mind their own business, but its not like that anymore,” said Ostermayer.
Encounters like this are becoming more common in the city.
“Edmonton does seem to have an increase in the rate of reporting of coyotes generally, and aggressive coyotes in particular, and that same pattern is occurring in cities across North America,” said Colleen Cassady St. Clair, professor of Biological Sciences with the University of Alberta.
Cassady St. Clair, who is also the research lead for the Edmonton Urban Coyote Project, said that the influx of urban coyotes may be caused by a combination of humans feeding them, and that the city is a generally safer place for the animals to live.
“They’ve gone from being sighted rarely in cities to being almost daily sightings for some people, especially dog walkers, so they’re here to stay,
“I guess we people need to learn some new strategies for co-existing with them,” said Cassady St. Clair.
Ostermayer and several other neighbours have called 311 to file complaints, but they say their attempts have lead to nothing. She said she wants more to be done.
“It’s a matter of time before a child or a senior or somebody gets attacked,” Ostermayer said.
If you come into contact with a coyote, Cassady St. Clair said there are several ways to protect yourself and your pets.
She said it’s best to keep your pet on a leash, appear to stand tall, and carry a walking stick for self defense.
Cassady St. Clair also said carrying a ball with flagging tape to throw can also help to deter the animal.
Coyote encounters can be reported to 311, or on the city’s coyote monitoring website.