Gateway Gazette

Lessons from Coyote

Lessons from Coyote

There is a problem with coyotes in North America. A decade of ecological research has shown coyotes enhance biodiversity, regulate other pest species and that lethal management of coyotes is an ineffective coexistence strategy. Yet, one coyote is killed every minute every year by people in the US and kill rates for Canada do not lag far behind: Consider that 70,000 coyotes were killed in Saskatchewan in 2009 alone, at a cost of $1.4 million taxpayer dollars.  The portrayal of coyotes today is vastly different than its iconic role in first nations’ mythology, and this is echoed in responses to coyote interactions. Highly polarized debate often plays out in the media after a negative encounter and usually coyotes are killed to mitigate further problems. In a review of coyote events and diet in Calgary and 12 years of coyote events across Canada, our research confirmed that coyote attacks on people are rare, people are disproportionately fearful of coyotes, pets are not frequently eaten by coyotes, certain pets are more vulnerable than others, and most critically- the solution to the ‘perceived coyote problem’ lies in changing human behavior.

About Dr. Alexander

Dr. Shelley Alexander has conducted field based and GIS modeling studies of carnivores in the Canadian Rockies since 1990, with an emphasis on wolves and coyotes. In addition to hand rearing coyote pups in Nova Scotia, and studying the ecology of recolonizing wolves in Alberta, she examined the effects of varying traffic volume on 13 terrestrial mammal species (including coyotes and wolves) and identified optimal sites for placing wildlife crossing structures on the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park.  As an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, Shelley established the Calgary Coyote Project in 2005. That study examined coyote diet relative to perceived conflict, urban and rural diet and parasitism, print media portrayal of coyote interactions with people and pets (1998-2010), and spearheaded the on-line, Living with Coyotes. Shelley’s research currently serves as the most comprehensive study of contemporary urban coyote issues in Canada. She is a member of the Science Advisory Board to Project Coyote, USA.  Her other research collaborations since 2001 have included studies of: swift fox critical habitat, road effects on large carnivores in the Yucatan, MX, and painted dog (Lycaonp ictus) conservation in Zimbabwe.  Her newest coyote initiative will begin in the Spring of 2015.

See Dr Alexander talk about the issue with coyotes at the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

Date: January 27, 2015
Time: 7 – 8:30 pm
Price: $5.00 (Free with membership)

Pre-Registration Required

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is one of Alberta’s newest provincial parks. Located along the north shore of the Bow River between Calgary and Cochrane, it consists of more than 1,300 hectares of foothills parkland. The park is managed through a formal partnership with the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation. It:

  • preserves and protects significant natural features, including endangered ecosystems and rare species; and
  • provides a unique opportunity to showcase the rich history of ranching and historic Glenbow townsite.

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