The City of Calgary is treating a conflict situation with compassion, intelligence, and reason. The trouble is some people simply aren’t listening, and that could put the lives of a coyote family at risk.
Media reports, which range from straight-forward to highly-sensationalized, tell a familiar story: a coyote den is situated in green space near a pathway alongside a residential community. The coyotes are showing behaviours that are reasonable in the situation, which equate to “give my pups and family space” when people are along the path. The City takes the reasonable and responsible precaution of shutting down that path while the pups are reared, as the behaviour will likely end once the pups are older.
“This escalating behaviour is their way of protecting their young when they feel there is threat nearby,” City ecologist (we love that Calgary has an ecologist, by the way) Tanya Hope told Global News.
Images in media show signs, areas physically blocked with caution tape, and in one location, actual temporary fencing. While some residents are still reporting the defensive behaviour to the city, a larger problem is looming.
“We’re also receiving information that people continue to walk past the warning signage and tape into the closed area,” Hope said. “If citizens continue to ignore the marked closures and threaten the coyotes by their sheer presence, the next steps the city will have to take could be lethal for the coyotes. We don’t want to get to that point.”
The City of Calgary, likely under the direction of their ecologist, is acting as a responsible steward of land and wildlife. While a full investigation is warranted to determine if there are other factors such as feeding or other human-based disruptions, blocking off the area where a coyote family is denning during puppy season makes sense, and creates protection for the canids, as well as the people who may frequent the area.
But citizens are putting this coyote family at risk through selfish behaviour, ignoring the obvious signs and fencing. We don’t know why they’re taking such risks, be it for photos, a chance to see the pups up close, or simple ignorance. We also don’t know that they understand the true costs with such actions: injury to themselves, and, possibly, death to a young family.
The situation is worrisome, and we’re hoping that the City can spare enforcement officials to bolster their sign and media campaign. But we’re also glad that the City is taking such positive steps towards protecting those who are most at risk here: the young coyote family, who just a safe place to call home.