Coyote sightings up because they're hunting
The rise in coyote sightings around the city is largely because the animals are venturing out to teach their young to hunt, according to an Edmonton-area outdoorsman.
"They're adolescents, but they're not quite ready to fly the coop. They're being trained and educated by the adults on how to subsist in their habitat," said Bill Abercrombie, president of Sherwood Park, Alta.-based Bushman Inc.
"They'll be teaching them hunting strategies, also how to move within the environment safely.… The adult coyotes actually teach the pups where the safest areas to cross the busy thoroughfares are. They also do a lot of scavenging in the urban habitat, so where to find a meal in a pinch."
Coyotes are being spotted in city river valleys, on golf courses and in ravines. Warning signs are up in nature areas advising that dogs be kept on leashes.
Abercrombie estimates there's 1,000 coyotes in the Edmonton area, not including the counties, a figure that is up from previous years.
"Even though it was a very hard winter for ungulates like deer, it was a good one for rodent production, and that is a key for coyote survival in the winter," he told CBC's Edmonton AM Friday.
"Heavy snowfall creates very good habitat for mice and voles and rabbits, and so the survival rate is high, and so this has meant an ample feeding supply for the coyotes."
Coyote encounters are rarely dangerous, but the canines are not domestic and should not be fed lest they lose their fear of humans and act more menacingly.
The best thing to do in a coyote encounter is to behave aggressively toward it, making noise and throwing things. Someone who stumbles on a coyote while walking their dog, however, should try to leave the area, Abercrombie said.
The city of Edmonton advises people not to turn away or run as it will trigger the coyote's predator instinct and encourage the animal to give chase.