County resident raises concerns about coyotes after pets go missing
By: Dawn Smith
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012 06:00 am
A County resident is warning pet owners about coyotes after her two dogs went missing earlier this month.
Julie Selinger, who has lived in the acreage community of Sharp Hill, just south of the Airdrie City limits for 12 years, said her two miniature pinchers disappeared without a trace.
She and her husband Jim believe the dogs, weighing between 15 and 20 pounds, were attacked by coyotes and dragged off.
“I don’t want anyone to lose a pet or have a child injured,” said Selinger. “I believe that (coyotes) came in the yard and took them.”
According to Selinger, Daizy, the couple’s 13-year-old female canine, went outside at 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 and never returned.
Although family and friends helped the couple search for hours, Selinger emailed everyone in the neighbourhood and posted information about the missing dog on several websites, they were not successful in locating Daizy.
On Oct. 13, Jim let Rusty, a 13-year-old male littermate to Daizy, outside at around 6 a.m.
When the couple got up at 7:30 a.m., Rusty had not come back in the house through the dog door and was no where to be found.
“We were devastated,” said Selinger, adding the morning routine of letting the dogs go out in the 2.5-acre yard in the morning is one the family has practiced since they got their pets about a decade ago.”
Selinger said she started researching the situation after it was clear a second dog had gone missing. That’s when she became convinced the dogs were taken by coyotes.
She said she learned dusk and dawn are the animal’s main hunting times and fall and winter are also prime times, likely because small animals, such as gophers, aren’t as active.
Selinger said her dogs rarely left the property and was surprised coyotes could get them because they are “tough”, although both were aging and had hearing problems.
The couple’s home is located on the edge of two municipal reserves. There are no homes to the east and there is evidence of coyote activity in the area.
Despite the wild animals’ visibility in the area, Selinger said they were shocked at their loss.
“In the 12 years we have lived here, we’ve never heard of a dog going missing,” she said, adding the couple is no longer letting their rescued Chihuahua out into the yard unattended.
According to a City of Airdrie press release, a regular coyote presence in one area is due to a variety of attractions such as pet food, fallen and ornamental fruit, bird feeders with lard or suet and accessible compost piles.
Coyotes are also attracted by mice and rodents, which are often found in tall grass where food is easily accessible.
The City also suggests residents frequently clean up after pets and keep an eye on pets in backyards. Secure fencing can also deter the animals.
Like all wild animals, coyotes should not be approached or fed, as doing so makes them less fearful of humans, according to the City’s release.
“Coyotes are opportunistic feeders; they can take advantage of habitats created by urban growth and find food sources within the city,” said Darryl Poburan, manager of Municipal Enforcement, RCMP and Building Inspections with the City of Airdrie.
“Residents can prevent the presence of coyotes and other wildlife in their backyards by securing garbage in animal-proof receptacles and only taking out garbage on collection days.”
For more information, non-emergency situations and to report coyote sightings: call Alberta Government’s Coyote Hotline at 1-780-644-5744.
To report incidents or injured coyotes, contact Alberta Fish and Wildlife at 403-297-6423 or 1-800-642-3800 for after hours.