Edmonton residents can do a great deal to help avoid negative human-coyote interactions and minimize the need for lethal management. The most important thing to do is to ensure that coyotes keep their natural fear of humans through aversive conditioning. The idea behind this is that if interactions with humans are consistently unpleasant for the coyote, it will learn to avoid them. On the other hand, if coyotes lose their fear and become habituated, they are much more likely to access human food and become nuisances. This process, called food conditioning, is very likely to generate conflict with human residents. Because of this it is also important to reduce the availability of possible attractants (such as compost, garbage, bird seed, pet food, and even outdoor pets) to coyotes. Conflict endangers people, and consequently, wildlife managers have no choice but to remove these animals from the population.
We need your help!
Here are a few simple things that can be done to discourage coyote habituation:
- When you encounter a coyote act aggressive: Shout in a deep voice, wave your arms, throw non-edible objects towards the coyote, and make yourself look big while maintining eye contact
Never run away: like with most dogs this behavior makes them want to chase after you
- Secure anything that could attract coyotes to your property (garbage, compost, birdseed, pet food, fallen fruit- see Operation Fruit Rescue).
- Keep cats and small dogs indoors, and keep them on-leash in park areas
- Never feed a coyote either in person or by leaving food for it
In order to co-exist with coyotes, it is crucial that we maintain and reinforce their natural fear of humans. For more information please see the City of Edmonton brochure for avoiding human-coyote conflict
As mentioned above, the step following coyote-human conflict is the removal of the coyote from the population. Although this is an effective solution for individual cases, it is not effective in the long run. What happens when one coyote is removed from the city is that another moves in, meaning that the urban coyote population is constantly being replenished from outside populations.
In the long run the overlying issue is our actions. The most effective solution in preventing conflict is for residents to consistently take action against coyote habituation. Everyone can help by following the few simple steps listed above!