Coyote attack in river valley shakes up dog owners

A woman's terrifying encounter with a coyote has some river valley users calling on the city to protect dog walkers and their pets.

Edmonton pest management team to investigate

A woman's terrifying encounter with a coyote has some river valley users calling on the city to protect dog walkers and their pets.

Witnesses say a women walking her dogs on the Highlands Golf Course Monday afternoon began screaming when a coyote snatched one of the pets. 

Dana Adams, who was out jogging about a kilometre away, came running when she heard the screams.

"I could see a woman running around in circles carrying a little dog and at first I could only see her," she said. "As I got closer I could see that a coyote was right behind her ... on her heels."

"The woman was yelling, 'No, no. Get away.'"

Three other parties of dog walkers also came running, all with large dogs.

"She was hysterical," said Ken McElroy. "She said, 'The coyote took my dog' and I said, 'Which way?' And then at that moment three people came out of the trees that were assisting her."

They had tried to scare off the coyote, but the animal would not be intimidated, he said.

"He was coming back over to where we were. The coyote was definitely interested in taking another animal. No doubt about it."

Dog walker stalked moments before

McElroy said a coyote had stalked him just moments before.

"I was walking in the golf course with my two dogs and a friend's dog and a coyote came walking right towards us and he wouldn't back down.

"I have a 100-pound Great Dane Lab cross and he is a fearless, fierce beast," he said. "The coyote was absolutely indifferent. He was just staring us down. It wouldn't leave, it just stood there."

It wasn't the first time he's faced down brazen coyotes while walking his dogs, he said. 

His smaller dog was almost killed after it was attacked by a pack of four coyotes two years ago, McElroy said.

The city needs to do something about the predators, he said.

"I understand the coyotes are doing what they do naturally. I get it. They're hungry. they need to eat."

But he'd like to see them tranquilized and relocated, he said.

Until then he's now thinking about protecting himself.

"It was like ... I'm going to carry a pellet gun with me when I'm walking my dogs just for personal safety," he said. "It was awful." 

Attack on dogs rare, says city

The city will send out its pest management consultant to investigate, said Keith Scott, park ranger coordinator. 

"I'm quite surprised," he said. "Normally coyotes in the park area are quite timid. It's a rare occurence for the city of Edmonton."

The coyotes may be defending their den area, Scott said. 

"(Dogs are) not their main source of food and generally it's lots of work for them. They prefer small rodents and hares.

The city will also interview the witnesses before deciding whether to remove the animal or mark the area with warning signs.

Scott's advice to dog owners: Unless in an off-leash area, keep the dog on a leash under control.

"We have up to 2,000 coyotes in the city," he said. "They're part of the environment. Generally they're trying to stay out of the humans' way."