Too close: coyote encounters leave Edmonton woman unnerved

An Edmonton woman is shaken after two encounters with a coyote on city streets this week. On each occasion, the coyote appeared to back away only once the woman yelled at the animal.

'It didn't back off, so I yelled again and it kind of lunged again'

An Edmonton woman says she had two encounters with a coyote this week in a neighbourhood near the river valley. (CC0 Public Domain/Pixabay)

An Edmonton woman is shaken after two encounters with a coyote on city streets this week.

Nora Johnston was walking her labradoodle, Maple, around 6 a.m. on Tuesday when she saw a coyote ahead of her in the intersection near 140th Street and 90A Avenue.
Nora Johnston and her dog, Maple, were followed by a coyote twice this week in Edmonton. (Supplied)

The coyote went right, so Johnston and her dog turned left.

"I had been about 400 metres down the road from where I saw the coyote and I heard a little click on the sidewalk and turned and the coyote was about five feet behind us, at a run," Johnston said.

She spun around and yelled at the coyote, which then stopped.

"It didn't back off, so I yelled again and it kind of lunged again," she said.

The coyote only left after she yelled a third time, she said.

While Maple didn't seem bothered by the coyote, Johnston said it left her heart pounding.

"I didn't expect it to follow us like that."

Coyote is more aggressive than others

It's not the first time Johnston has seen coyotes during her early morning walks in the Valleyview neighbourhood, which is close to the river valley.

"They go off and do their own thing," she said. "But this one is slightly more aggressive, I guess, or hungry."

The second encounter happened Thursday when she saw what she believes was the same coyote lying on 140th Street.

"I thought, 'Well, I'm not going that way.' So I carried on the same avenue I was on ... and then I saw it stand up and I thought, 'OK this isn't good,' " she said.

Johnston kept moving and when she looked over her shoulder, she saw the coyote running toward them. 

She turned and yelled at the coyote, which stopped right away.

Johnston said the coyote was about the same size as her dog and didn't appear scrawny.

Time for pups to leave the den

City officials aren't seeing more coyotes than usual this year, said Kara Abel, a park ranger with the City of Edmonton.

"It is denning season, though, so there will be pups coming out soon from the dens and the coyotes can be a little bit more protective of the area that they're in," she said.

Coyotes are also naturally curious, she said.

"They will watch at a distance just to make sure you're not potentially going in their denning area."

Dog owners should be particularly careful at this time of year, and consider keeping their dogs on-leash in all areas to prevent them from entering coyote dens. The city provides more information about urban coyotes on its website.

Johnston did the right thing by yelling at the coyote, Abel added.
Coyotes are frequent visitors to Edmonton's urban landscape. (Associated Press)

"We want you to act big, we want you to not run away … We want you to make noise, throw rocks or sticks or other objects that can scare the coyote away."

Changing walking route

Johnston plans to change her morning walking route.

"I'm definitely more cautious now and paying more attention," she said. "Having to pay attention and be aware of what's going on around me, I think, is more important."

Johnston said she doesn't mind when coyotes are in the neighbourhood hunting hares or squirrels.

"When they're coming after people and dogs, that gets a bit scary," she said. "There's lots of kids in the neighbourhood ... walking to school. I don't know if he's still around at that time of day or not."


Nola Keeler is an award-winning journalist who has worked with CBC in Whitehorse, Yukon and Edmonton since 2000. She has worked as a host, reporter, news reader and producer for CBC. Send story ideas to nola.keeler@cbc.ca.