A Calgarian is urging pet owners to be extra careful and keep their dogs leashed after his 13-pound Yorkshire Terrier, Chewbacca, was nearly killed in a coyote attack last week.
Meanwhile, a coyote researcher says Calgarians should be more vigilant during this time of year, when young coyotes are on their own for the first time.
Last Tuesday around 10 p.m., Lucas Ramage let 12-year-old Chewbacca out into the unfenced front yard in the northwest community of Briar Hill for his nighttime potty break.
Then he heard a strange noise outside.
“I came outside to find my little dog surrounded by five, fully grown coyotes,” said Ramage.
Ramage acted fast. He says he bolted out the door and chased the coyotes away, and they left without a fight.
But Chewbacca was left highly distressed and injured.
Ramage said he immediately drove Chewie to the nearest emergency vet clinic, where he was treated for severe wounds all over his body.
“He’s a 13-pound dog against five, fully grown coyotes, so he didn’t really stand much of a chance, and it’s quite miraculous that he didn’t perish right away,” Ramage said.
“Thankfully, with quick intervention, Chewbacca is still with us today.”
After spending five nights in the hospital, Ramage said Chewbacca is recovering back at home. He said the Yorkie is highly medicated and docile, and Chewie may never be the same again.
He said he has some advice for other dog owners: learn and listen to the city’s guidelines to keep pets safe from coyotes.
“I’ve heard of incidents with other animals, and yet I didn’t heed the advice to always keep your eyes on your pet and always keep them on leash, or under a sort of fenced environment where you just know that they’ll be safe,” said Ramage.
Ramage said he’ll never let Chewie roam the front yard alone again and is grateful to have more time with his pup.
Wildlife management teams doing daily patrols
The city says it’s aware of the coyote attack on Chewie.
A spokesperson said the city has received 10 reports of coyote activity in October in this particular neighbourhood through 311.
“In response, we have had wildlife management contractors active in the Briar Hill community and conducting daily patrols,” said an emailed statement.
Ramage said he’s aware some neighbours are calling on the city to cull the coyotes because they’re afraid for their children’s safety — especially since Chewie’s attack was not the only sighting.
But the city said removal of coyotes is a last resort, and instead, it’s practicing hazing techniques “that teach coyotes to associate humans with loud noises and other unpleasant experiences.”
The goal is to change coyotes’ behaviour and reduce potential future conflicts, the spokesperson said.
For Ramage, he said if that’s what it takes to drive the coyotes away and keep the neighbourhood’s children and pets safe, he’s happy with that response.
More coyote conflict in the fall
University of Calgary geography professor and longtime coyote researcher Shelley Alexander says the city is making the right move.
“Calgary is sort of on the forefront of programs dealing with wildlife coexistence. Not culling is actually the more enlightened decision and approach,” said Alexander.
“The science actually shows us that when you use indiscriminate culling, you break down the family structures. You can create more chaos in those coyotes. It doesn’t address the problem that you’re facing because the space will just be repopulated with other coyotes.”
Coyotes are a vital part of Calgary’s ecosystem, Alexander said, especially when it comes to regulating prey species from overpopulating or spreading diseases.
Alexander said coyote conflicts usually tick up during this time of year.
In the fall, young coyotes are on their own for the first time and are more prone to get into attractants, looking for food, she said.
She said there’s also an uptick between May to July, when the pups are born and are just coming out of their dens.
“People should be more vigilant during these two periods of time,” said Alexander.
City of Calgary tips to keep pets safe:
- Keeping pets away from coyotes keeps pet safe.
- In on-leash parks, always leash your dogs.
- In off-leash areas, if coyotes are present or in the area, keep your dogs leashed. Shorter leashes keep dogs safer.
- Keep your cats indoors — it keeps cats safe from coyotes and songbirds safe from cats.
- Pick up dog poop — it attracts coyotes.
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