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Woman Chased By Coyote Highlights Urban Wildlife Challenge

A serene morning walk turned into a nightmare for Tanya Barkley and her dog Lilly, chased by an aggressive coyote in the city's northwest

A week and a half has passed since an aggressive coyote chased Calgary resident Tanya Barkley and her dog Lilly, but the trauma remains. 

On March 14, Barkley and Lilly were walking in the city’s northwest where they live. The pair left the house at 4:30 AM for their usual early morning walk.

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel | Purina
A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel | Purina

But Barkley and Lilly’s morning routine quickly turned sour. 

“I let (Lilly) do her business and kind of turned around I saw these dogs. I looked, and those are coyotes, but they were large coyotes,” Barkley told Global News.

Barkley’s heart was in her throat when one of the coyotes turned around and started following the pair.

She started screaming at the animal and waving her arms, which is recommended when encountering a coyote. 

But Barkley made a potentially fatal mistake once she got to her home.

As well, Barkley unintentionally increased her risk of an encounter by planning her morning walk between dusk and dawn when coyotes are most active.

“…I ran up my stairs, and the coyote ran up the stairs behind me, and I literally slammed the door in its face,” Barkley recalls. 

During a coyote encounter, never turn your back or run away. Always keep your eyes on the animal and back away slowly. 

The coyote that followed Barkley was likely targeting Lilly, a four-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a small dog breed.

Coyotes are most active in early spring, searching for food to feed their newborns. The coyote that chased Barkley likely saw Lilly as an easy meal.

“I live in a neighbourhood with little kids, elderly people with small dogs, and (the coyotes) were not afraid of me whatsoever; they just wanted my dog,” said Barkley. 

It is unlikely that the encounter would have been fatal to Barkley, but Lilly’s life was certainly at risk. 

Tanya Barkley in an interview with Global News | Global News Calgary
Tanya Barkley in an interview with Global News | Global News Calgary

The Best Defence

Lucas Ramage holding Chewbacca  CBC News
Lucas Ramage holding Chewbacca | CBC News

The encounter is similar to last year’s coyote attack involving Calgarian Lucas Ramage and his 12-year-old Yorkie, Chewbacca

Ramage managed to scare away the five coyotes that attacked his dog, but Chewbacca was in rough shape and barely survived the attack.

After escaping inside her house with Lilly, Barkley called 311 to report the incident to city services. She was disappointed by the city’s response.

“They said unless the coyote was aggressive, or going through garbage or an attack, they couldn’t really do much about it,” said Barkley. 

Most people would consider being chased by a coyote an aggressive encounter. 

Barkley doesn’t think the city will do anything to prevent similar encounters. 

Following the incident, Global News contacted the City of Calgary for a comment. 

“City staff will investigate and determine the appropriate response. Calls to 311 about coyote sightings are also appreciated. The city uses this data to look for trends in activity,” said the city. 

The National Park Service found that 75 percent of an urban coyote's diet is from human sources, including garbage, fruit trees, and domestic cats  Granicus
COYOTE raiding garbage can left outside house. Rocky Mountains. (Canis latrans).

A growing number of coyotes in urban areas like Calgary is concerning. However, controlling coyote populations in cities is difficult in Calgary and North America.

Previous attempts to remove coyotes from North American cities have failed. 

The most effective way to reduce coyote populations in urban environments is to make the area unattractive. 

From installing motion sensor lights to something as simple as keeping trash out of reach, many ways to ward off coyotes exist.

However, the best defence against any unwanted wildlife encounter is education. 

Learning about the behaviour of coyotes goes a long way toward protecting pets, children, and the public from potentially dangerous encounters.

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