Coyote calls rise in Calgary as public urged to stay wild-smart

The number of wildlife-related calls into the city is on the rise over the past month as officials remind Calgarians to stay wild smart.

Call numbers up, but aggressive encounters not on the rise, city officials says

Calgary officials say they received 340 wildlife-related calls last month, about 100 involving coyotes. (Peter Vaudry)

The number of wildlife-related calls into the city is on the rise over the past month as officials remind Calgarians to stay wild smart.

City officials received about 340 wildlife-related calls last month — around 100 of those calls involved coyotes.

That number is a moderate increase over the previous month, which is likely due to the fact that it's denning season, when coyotes protect their dens and search for food to feed their pups.

"We find that a fairly small proportion of those calls are truly aggressive," said Chris Manderson, an urban conservation lead with Calgary Parks.

Manderson said he hasn't seen any data that indicates the city is seeing an uptick in the number of aggressive encounters.

"I think what we've seen is an uptick in awareness and people are calling us more, which is kind of what we want."

The city says coyotes are particularly active in the suburbs and natural areas, but can live anywhere in the city.

Culling leads to increase

Some measures are taken — the city can remove coyotes, however they prefer not to.

"What we have learned is if you start culling coyotes … you actually get the opposite response, you get more coyotes," Manderson said, adding that research shows killing coyotes lead to increased breeding and increased numbers over time.

University of Calgary wild canid expert Shelly Alexander says actual conflict between people and coyotes is extremely rare, but adds people still need to be aware.

"Make sure you have excellent recall or have your dog on a leash," she said. "The second part of that is you don't want to leave food out that is going to attract them to the neighbourhood."

The city is asking people to call 311 when they spot any wildlife.

With files from Dave Gilson