In South Edmonton’s Twin Brooks neighborhood, Council Member Jennifer Rice said coyotes have become a problem.
Rice, a councilor for the Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi district, noted that what is worrying is his aggressive behavior.
“They are no longer afraid of human beings,” he said.
“They are starting to get closer to humans and follow us, that’s what I heard.”
There are new signs in that area, warning people of coyote sightings.
Recently, one attacked two dogs while they were out for a walk, seriously injuring them, according to Rice.
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There is ongoing research from the University of Alberta (U of A) looking at how to handle urban coyotes.
A recent study shows that aversive conditioning, also known as hazing, is an effective deterrent.
In other words, make coyotes afraid of people.
“The idea is that we subject animals to something that they find aversive and that they learn to avoid people or places where people are because of it,” said U of A life sciences professor Colleen Cassady. St. Clair.
St. Clair directs the Edmonton Urban Coyote Project. She documents sightings and the behavior of the animals.
Last year, volunteers in dozens of Edmonton neighborhoods saw coyotes 64 times and found that they backed off when people approached 80 percent of the time.
“They did that every time people subjected them to aversive conditioning by chasing them and throwing a tennis ball at them,” St. Clair explained.
St. Clair noted that urban coyotes are becoming more common, they are also getting bolder.
“People see them more often in places where they didn’t see them before,” he said.
“The coyotes are adapting to living with us. They are really intelligent animals and they can figure out that most of the time we are quite harmless. “
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Urban coyotes can conflict with people in different ways, according to St. Clair.
One of them is with pets.
“Sometimes they feed on small dogs and even jump out into the yards to catch them; they take a lot of cats that are loose ”, he explained.
They have also bitten people. He noted that 45 people in Vancouver last summer reported being bitten by a coyote.
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“That is completely unprecedented in North America; there has never been a year with so many bites in one place, ”said St. Clair.
She thinks it mainly has to do with food conditioning.
To keep animals away, he said make sure there is nothing for them to enter and eat, such as compost or garbage.
To protect your property and pets, build a tall fence.
St. Clair said they hope to recruit and train more volunteers to participate in the field study next year.
As for Rice, she said it’s an issue she will continue to investigate as she raises more awareness in her community.
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