By Emily Jaycox
Pipestone Flyer Contributor
At this time of year female coyotes are looking for mates and are more likely to come into urban areas, according to Darren Unreiner, district Fish and Wildlife officer for the Wetaskiwin district.
The end of January, and into the beginning of February, is the animals’ mating season, he says.
Residents are likely to see more groups of the animals while walking their dogs along the trails, near the city limits, or on surrounding acreages said Unreiner.
Coyotes are smart animals and people need to take precautions to keep themselves and their pets safe, he says.
“People need to be aware of their surroundings.”
During this time of heightened coyote activity, Unreiner recommends dog owners bring their pets’ food bowls inside to avoid attracting the animals and giving them “a free little meal.”
If you encounter a coyote, make a lot of noise, don’t welcome them to come closer, and do not feed them, said Unreiner.
Sometimes well-meaning individuals feel sorry for coyotes, or other wildlife, during the cold winter months, and throw food to them, but this does more harm than good, he said.
“It habituates them … they have their own way of surviving [the winter].”
Increased coyote activity during their mating season is an expected, annual occurrence and there are no plans to remove the animals, he said.
“We don’t tranquilize coyotes.”
Alberta Fish and Wildlife handle incidents involving anything from skunks, to bears and cougars and encourage residents to call Wetaskiwin office at 780-361-1250 at any time if they have a concern.
There have already been some complaints made to the Wetaskiwin RCMP about coyotes this winter.
According to Cst. Matthew Slipp, three calls from within the city and county were received between Dec. 1, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018.
The complaints were made because the animals were in close proximity to people and there was some concern for safety, but no one was injured during the incidents, said Slipp.
Although it is not Slipp’s personal experience that coyotes are dangerous he says, “Any wild animal can be dangerous, a deer can be dangerous, under the right circumstances.”
The RCMP are Fish and Wildlife officers under their appointment and are able to respond to emergency situations involving wild animals, says Slipp.
If there is an emergency situation regarding a wild animal, where there is concern for safety, he encourages the public to call 911 and report the incident.