Coyotes in Saskatoon have been reported sick and in distress over the weekend and police are cautioning the public.
The Saskatoon Police Service responded to a call on Saturday that a coyote was lying in an alley and acting strange near the 600 block of Fehergyhazi Boulevard.
Police determined that the animal was in distress and it was safely euthanized.
Later in the afternoon, police got another call about a sick coyote at Sutherland Dog Park near Fedoruk Drive and Central Avenue.
The animal was also in distress and behaving abnormally, and was euthanized safely.
Officers were approached by another person at the park who saw yet another coyote that was acting strangely.
The third coyote was found and confirmed to be in distress, but it got away before police could euthanize it.
Saskatoon police say residents should call 306-975-8300 or 911 if they see an animal that could pose a threat to public safety.
The Saskatoon Police Service told Global News in a statement that it’s rare for police to get called to coyote sightings within city limits and reiterated that people should report potentially dangerous animals.
In an interview, Chief Troy Cooper said he didn’t know what was found at the parks when he was asked about the signs at the park warning about an unknown substance.
“I’m not sure what they’ve located there, but again, there were animals behaving unnaturally, and we just want to make sure if there’s a cause of that, that it also didn’t get into human consumption as well,” Cooper said.
He said it’s unusual for wildlife to be sharing the same space as people in the city, so residents should be cautious.
Rachael Mensch, the owner of Rachael’s Rovers, a dog walking company, says there is always wildlife at the parks, but hopes the city looks into what is making these coyotes sick.
She said this is a good reminder for pet owners who take their dogs to off-leash parks to practise vigilance.
“At the end of the day, it is people’s choice if they want to take their dogs to the park, and just ensuring that they are watching where their dog is going, watching what their dog is interacting with, keeping their eyes on their dog,” Mensch said.
She said there are everyday risks at parks people should watch out for, noting there are fox tails at parks, and those are also dangerous for dogs.
Mensch gave some advice for pet owners if they are ever at a park and run into wildlife like a coyote.
“Stay calm, don’t engage with the animal, obviously don’t provoke it, it’s not a good time to pull out your phone, keep your eye on the animal, back up, try to keep your pet near you. That’s why treats are always good to kind of keep (your pet) with you, and remove yourself from that situation as soon as possible.”
The Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety told Global News in a statement that the dead coyotes have been submitted for testing.
“The Ministry of Environment has submitted the animals to the Canadian Wildlife Health Co-operative for necropsy to determine the cause of their apparent illness. Preliminary results may be available within two weeks, but a final determination could take longer if specialized testing is required.”
“Because it is not yet known what caused the animals’ illness, the public is being advised to be vigilant when using the dog park, out of an abundance of caution. Keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date is also a good idea, to protect them from diseases such as rabies and distemper.”
The statement added that coyote sightings in Saskatoon aren’t unusual, noting they are very good at adapting to live in urban areas.