A woman who is one of several recently bitten by a coyote in northwest Calgary recently says she was playing with her children in her front yard when the animal appeared out of nowhere and chomped down on her thigh.
Nicole Au was outside her Nolan Hill home with her daughters on the evening of June 11 says she had crouched down to push her youngest on a new bike when it happened.
WATCH | ‘Unusually bold’ coyote bites woman on leg while she plays with her children, in the video above
“I just felt something grab my leg and start pulling and tugging. Turned around, and realized it was a coyote,” Au said.
“I never heard anything. They don’t make any noise. So it just shocked me.”
The attack was captured on tape by a garage security camera.
“It wouldn’t let go. It tugged and tugged. I tried to just slap it away and kick it off somehow. Everything happened really fast.”
She spent the night in hospital so doctors could run blood tests and check for parasites. Au had to return to the emergency room and is still scheduled for more treatment.
“It could have been worse. It could have been my kid, or somebody else’s kid,” Au said.
‘Unusually bold’ coyote thought to be behind attacks to be killed
For weeks, Nolan Hill residents have been living with what the city described in posted signs as a lone “unusually bold and aggressive” coyote — which the city said Monday would have to be killed after it’s tracked down as it hasn’t responded to hazing.
Au is one of two women who have been taken to hospital after being bitten by the coyote in the past two weeks. The most recent was a woman bitten outside of her home around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Gregory Hartzler, chief of staff for the office of Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca, said the office has also been told of a third attack.
The city says it’s been decided that the animal will have to be tracked and killed.
“We don’t take this lightly at all,” said Lincoln Julie, integrated pest management lead for Calgary’s parks department.
“Because of the urgency of the situation and the concerns raised in the community and the concerns that we have … we think that the removal and destroying [of] the animal is the fastest, safest option at this point.”
Teams spent weeks working to ‘haze’ coyote, to no avail
Typically, coyotes and humans co-exist without problems in Calgary, including in Nolan Hill, a community on the edge of the city.
Experts believe this particular animal was trying to establish territory after being displaced.
City contractors had increased their presence in the neighbourhood, with multiple teams spending six to 10 hours each day for weeks working to “haze” the animal by teaching it to associate humans with loud noises and other unpleasant experiences, Hartzler said.
But the animal did not respond.
“We do think that the coyote may have been displaced by some development going on in the area,” Julie said.
“Because there are other coyote packs in the area with established territory, this coyote has nowhere to go.”
Now, the city says contractors are tracking the coyote’s movements to private land, where with permission and discussions with the landowner, they will attempt to kill the animal.
“We will leave it up to our contractors to decide on the appropriate method at the time that they’re on private property. They’ll have to discuss with the landowner what the landowner is comfortable with,” Julie said.
Keeping wildlife out of the community has proven difficult as the area is surrounded by open space, much of which is private land, said Hartzler.
Au said she’s relieved to hear the coyote is being tracked down because her family has felt unsafe outside their home.
“We have a bat in the garage just in case now,” she said.
“If I need to water my lawn, I need to water my flowers, my husband will come out with me and stand watch now … in case anything happens.”
Tips to stay safe around coyotes
Having a healthy urban coyote population is an important ingredient of biodiversity in Calgary, the city says, especially in helping control the population of rodents and other wildlife.
The city’s website offers the following tips for good coyote-human relations:
- Enjoy all wildlife from a distance.
- Never feed coyotes or leave pet food (including bird seed) outside.
- Be mindful of where your children are and don’t leave them alone.
- Carry a loud whistle or other noisemaking device in areas that have coyotes.
- Throw all garbage in park containers and pick up after your pet.
- Always leash your dogs in on-leash parks. 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.
- Pick up dog feces.
- Close/block areas under porches, decks or steps if you’re having issues with them in your yard.
If you run into an aggressive coyote or one approaches you, the city suggests:
- Do not turn away or run.
- Scare it by shouting and waving your arms.
- Bang sticks or clang pots together at the animal.
- Maintain eye contact and back away slowly.
“You might want to carry a loud whistle or some noisemaking devices when you’re out and about,” Julie said. “Most importantly, be vigilant in the community.”
Last year, 311 received more than 1,500 reports of coyote sightings in the city.
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