CAPTION: A coyote in Canmore. | File photoScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Parks Canada is reiterating its advisory about keeping your pet on a leash after a coyote attacked a dog at the airfield during the last week of December.

“We frequently see coyotes there, and it’s also an area that people tend to like to go to walk their dogs because there’s not a lot of folks around,” said James McCormick, human-wildlife coexistence specialist.

“Unfortunately, sometimes they will often let their dogs off-leash there, which isn’t allowed and isn’t great for the wildlife.”

The individual was walking two dogs on leash along the trail behind the airstrip. During the walk, the person let the larger dog off-leash. At one point, they heard a disturbance in the bushes and the larger dog went to investigate. 

When it ran back, it had a bitemark and a scratch in the back of the leg. The person reported the incident to Jasper Dispatch with the description of the animal seen leaving immediately after the attack. Parks determined that the description matched that of a coyote.

Because the incident occurred out of sight, Parks couldn’t determine which animal – the coyote or the 27 kg dog – initiated the interaction.

“It could have gone either way, and that’s the challenge with having your dog off-leash,” McCormick said.

“It will potentially initiate encounters and/or the coyote may perceive it more of a threat or even competition for it in the area. It’s just starting into that coyote breeding season now, so the coyote may have viewed it as a competitor.”

The event serves as a reminder to everyone to keep their animals under care and control when out in the great wild landscape of Jasper National Park. All house pets must be on leash with the only exception being the off-leash fenced park along Sleepy Hollow Road.

McCormick added that Parks Canada requests people to refrain from taking their dogs out in areas where wildlife is observed as the risk of interaction is too great.

If you are already out and then observe the wildlife, “try to give them as much space as you can,” he said.

There was no word on whether charges would be forthcoming as of Monday this week.

“Parks Canada considers many factors before pressing charges in accordance with the Canada National Parks Act,” said Janelle Verbruggen, public relations and communications officer with the Jasper Field Unit.

“Each case is investigated individually and assessed for the severity or impact to people and ecological integrity. In some cases, we may rely on alternative methods, such as visitor education or a warning as a first measure.”

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jan 09, 2024 at 12:00

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta

Comments are Welcome - Use the 'Join the Discussion' above any replies, or 'TheRegional / Chat' below replies. Both links take you to the same place. You will be asked to become a registered user if you are not one already - Posts are moderated