BANFF – – A coyote that’s denned within the Banff townsite has been attacking dogs in a defensive act to protect her pups.
Parks Canada officials say there have been several instances where a coyote has chased and bitten dogs, including the latest on Tuesday (June 12) when the coyote bit a dog on Glen Avenue.
“Originally we were quite concerned this coyote was acting in a predatory way toward dogs,” said Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager for Banff National Park.
“Now we know there’s a den in the area and there’s pups and this is a very classic, sort of defensive act of trying to keep predators away from the den site.”
A warning has been posted for an area on the south side of the Bow River, which includes Glen Avenue, Spray Avenue, Mountain Avenue, Mountain Lane and Kootenay Avenue.
On June 5, a resident was riding her bike with her dog on leash on Glen Avenue when a coyote ran toward them and bit the dog. The coyote ran away and the dog was not seriously harmed.
The following day, the same resident’s daughter was walking the dog. The coyote sprinted toward them, but she managed to get back inside the home before the coyote could attack the dog.
Typically, Parks Canada would not allow a coyote to den inside town boundaries, but the den site was not discovered until after the pups were born.
“If we’d been able to get an indication sooner of the den site, we might have been able to do something else, but because she has young pups we’re leaving it,” said Hunt.
“We probably have two or three weeks to get through and then we’ll probably work to haze her and her family out of town or relocate them.”
Parks Canada is calling on the public’s help with the situation, so other measures don’t have to be taken sooner.
Hunt said Parks Canada spoke to neighbours in the area and is asking residents to consider walking dogs at the off-leash dog park.
“Please, if you’re walking or biking with dogs, try to avoid that part of town and use the off-leash park set up to exercise dogs,” he said. “It’s not only for the safety of your dog, but for not having harassment of the coyote family.”
As well as keeping dogs on leash, Parks advises people to carry bear spray and keep all food, garbage and dog food indoors or inside vehicles – and don’t feed the coyotes.
“If you get a chance to spray the coyote, and you’re close enough to do it and it’s a safe situation, we encourage you to do so,” said Hunt, adding residents should report all coyote sightings to park dispatch at 403-762-1470.
Meanwhile, a closure remains in place for the Spray River East trail, including campground Sp6 after a black bear got into unsecured food and garbage. Parks is evaluating when to lift the closure that’s been in place since June 7.
Parks law enforcement is investigating the incident, noting campers were in the campsite illegally without a permit and food and garbage was not secured.
“It’s disappointing that a bear got into food. It’s the slippery slope of food conditioning,” said Hunt.
“The staff that responded saw the bear on site. It’s just a concern that if the bear’s learned to forage there it puts other campers at risk – so we closed it.”