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Coyote tracker helps manage urban wildlife


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October is one of the most likely times of year to spot a coyote within Calgary since many young coyotes are leaving their families for the first time. Now, University of Calgary researchers are offering a resource to Calgarians who want to know where and when coyotes have been in their neighbourhoods and parks, as well as enlisting the help of Calgarians to monitor coyote behaviour towards people and pets.
 
Living with Coyotes is an online tool with which Calgarians can record their observations of coyotes in the Calgary area as well as learn about coyotes in the city. A collaboration between Dr. Shelley Alexander (Geography), Dr. Michael Quinn (Environmental Design) and a team from the Miistakis Institute for the Rockies, the tool can help identify areas where higher risks of coyote-pet and coyote-human interactions may occur. It is also an educational website, providing recent results of research on Calgary coyotes, links to other coyote websites and organizations, tips for coexisting with coyotes, and information on coyote ecology.
 
“The mapping tool is one component of the website, and is more than a system to report coyotes, it allows us to monitor patterns in coyote behaviour and flag those patterns indicating a risk to people or pets,” says Alexander. “In those instances we can take preventative measures such as alerting Animal Services or increasing public awareness.”
 
Living with Coyotes utilizes Google maps and enables Calgarians to pinpoint the location of a coyote and the behavior observed. It also allows the user to input further details pertaining to the observation such as if they saw a den, scat, tracks, the number of coyotes observed and whether or not there was behavior exhibited that would elicit further investigation.
 
“Using the system is safe for coyotes and meaningful for Calgarians,” says Alexander. “Calgary is in a position where we have the ability to influence coyote behaviours if we want to. Gathering this information will allow us to better address the risks of coyote conflicts.”
 
While there are relatively low incidents of coyotes biting humans or attacking pets, the tool is also an outlet for concerned Calgarians to contribute to the issue of coyotes in the city. As well, the public can use the information in Living with Coyotes to learn about coyote behaviour and make decisions about their outdoor recreation activities. An important component of the site is educating Calgarians’ understanding of coyote behaviour to promote harmonious co-existence.
 
Coyotes can be seen in Calgary year round, but the peak times they are more likely to end up in a conflict with people or pets are in April and when the animals are denning, or right now, in September and October, when young coyotes are venturing out on their own for the first time.
 
Calgarians can log on and learn more at:
www.rockies.ca/coyotes/