Calgary

Family of coyotes with 9 pups occupying stone wall in Arbour Lake

A family of coyotes has taken up residence in the large, stacked boulders of a stone wall in the northwest community of Arbour Lake. Neighbours have observed the nine pups as well as at least one very protective parent, and city officials are asking the public to keep a respectable distance, especially with dogs.

City urges residents to keep a respectful distance and keep dogs away

Two of seven pups can be seen near a den where they've been camping out in Arbour Lake. (Peter Dugandzic)

A family of coyotes has taken up residence in the large, stacked boulders of a stone wall in the northwest community of Arbour Lake. Neighbours have observed the nine pups as well as at least one very protective parent, and city officials are asking the public to keep a respectable distance.

Peter Dugandzic, who has lived in Arbour Lake for just over a year, observes the den almost daily.

"[The mother coyote's] been in and out of the area being very aggressive at times, actually scaring the residents of the community," he said. "And now that we know why, it's a bit of a surprise."

  • Watch the pups nip and play:

Dugandzic often sees the female coyote in the early morning hours at the corner of Arbour Vista Hill and Arbour Lake Drive NW.

"She'll be over here on the corner just observing things, and I didn't know why she was sticking so close to this corner," he said, adding that he's heard from officers that the way the rocks are stacked makes the den a perfect, natural hiding place for the coyote family. 

"I saw them this morning, they're still quite small," he said. "They're very playful. And she's been watching from afar and making sure that no one gets too close."

A litter of seven coyote pups plays outside their den in Arbour Lake. (Peter Dugandzic)

Chris Manderson, urban conservation lead with Calgary Parks, says the city is alerting all area residents with signs, door hangers and snow fencing along the sidewalk in front of the den. He's asking people to keep their distance, and to make sure pets are kept far away as well.

"Please don't bring your dogs to that area, give them some space, let mom do her thing," he said, adding dogs could be seen as a threat or potentially prey. 

"She's obviously going to be pretty protective of the puppies. We're of course afraid of things like pups getting hit by cars."

Manderson said the dens are found all over they city — they are currently monitoring dens in Aspen, Springbank and Nose Hill — but that this one is unusually close to the sidewalk.

"Mom will be protective, that's just natural," he said. "The mother will protect her pups so please don't approach the animals for that reason alone. You don't want to put yourself at risk."

People approaching the pups could also stress the animals out, he noted. 

"It might feel great to take a selfie or get in really close and take a photograph, but if you think about the impact on the animal, it's generally not a good thing," he said. 

Manderson urges area residents to check they don't have any tempting food out in their yards, pet food and compost. Instead, coyotes will hunt out natural prey like mice and rabbits, he said.

"They live among us, they're everywhere in Calgary. They play a really important role in the healthy ecosystem function."

(Peter Dugandzic)

An alarming encounter

Bruce Dielissen, who lives in the area, says he had an alarming encounter two years ago in this spot.

"You're walking down the path merrily along, enjoying the day, and all of a sudden as we go by these rocks, we've got the two coyotes, mom and dad, coming down the hill, charging us down the sidewalk," he said.

He said an observant driver passing by and honking the vehicle's horn helped to defuse the situation. 

Manderson hopes the coyotes will soon move on from their south-facing den in the boulders.

"They typically do [move] two to three times in the season anyway, so ideally for us, if we give them a little bit of time and space, she may move them on herself and eliminate the concern."

This south-facing stone wall in Arbour Lake has attracted a family of coyotes. (CBC)

With files from Helen Pike

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