Traps back in Calgary parks to catch coyotes for study

Foot hold traps will be back in Calgary parks for a University of Calgary catch-and-release study on coyotes after the program was suspended last year following complaints from dog walkers.

'Toothless' rubber traps monitored by video cameras and placed in areas not used by the public, says researcher

Coyote study

9 years ago
Duration 2:07
Next week, researchers from the U of C will start setting traps around a few Calgary parks.

Foot hold traps will be back in Calgary parks for a University of Calgary catch-and-release study on coyotes after the program was suspended last year following complaints from dog walkers.

Alessandro Massolo, assistant professor of wildlife health ecology, says the rubber-coated traps will be covered with lids during the day and only activated from dusk to dawn.

He said the big change this time around is better signage and giving better information to the public before launching the study.

Coyote sightings in urban areas have become more common in recent years, which is one of the reasons why the spread of a coyote tapeworm is worrying some animal health specialists. (Janet Kessler/Associated Press file photo)

"The catch-and-release equipment is humane and not intended to injure animals or people," said Massolo in a release.

"The devices are toothless, padded with rubber and designed to hold the foot of the coyote. They are configured to ensure the pressure exerted by the device will not fracture or break the limbs of an animal."

The five parks that will see the traps include Nose Hill, Fish Creek Provincial Park, Bowmont, Weaselhead and area close to Southland.

"We would like to know what the coyotes are doing while in the city and if there is any way in which they can be infected or they can infect dogs when the dogs and the coyotes are in the parks," said Massolo.

"So we would like to study their health, their parasites and to see if we have to be concerned about anything."

Video cameras monitor the traps and researchers will be there in half an hour when a coyote is caught to put a GPS collar on and release it.

The collars will monitor how the coyotes move around Calgary.

Study hopes to benefit community

"These studies include an examination of gastrointestinal parasites in Calgary dogs, urban coyotes and rodents, and another on dog fecal contamination of city parks," said Massolo. 

"All of these are part of a broad, multi-year research program into wildlife health ecology here in Calgary that we hope will provide real, tangible benefits to the community."

The findings will be sent to the City of Calgary to improve future decision-making for the management of Calgary’s natural areas, with the goal of a healthier environment for people, their pets and wildlife.

Chris Manderson with city parks says the goal is to not interfere with anyone or harm any animal.

"The traps are deliberately selected so that they're off the beaten path, as it were, in areas where we have not observed any use by people or dogs," he said.

Massolo said the traps will be set up in areas where dogs are supposed to be on-leash or in the bush where people and dogs are not supposed to be.

"They should use the parks as they usually do following the municipal bylaws," he said.

Mark Graham, who often walks his dogs in Nose Hill, has noticed the traps in the past.

"I'm always making sure there's none about. I haven't seen any recently. If I do, I put them back on the leash."

The researchers say the traps will be removed as soon as they collar two coyotes in each of the parks.