BANFF – Parks Canada officials are on the lookout for a coyote den inside the Banff townsite.
A bold coyote, which had been approaching dogs at close range, has led to an official warning for an area near the Old Banff Cemetery, including the Ken Madsen Path and other nearby trails.
Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager for Banff National Park, said he suspects the coyote is trying to stake out territory or defend a den.
“We haven’t located the den site yet,” he said.
“Staff are patrolling and we are certainly looking for feedback from residents on what they’re seeing in the area.”
As birthing time nears and once pups are born, coyote parents are more protective of denning areas and more active in hunting food. Their activity levels and protectiveness rises even more as the pups begin to wander out of the den in early summer.
While coyotes are rarely interested in people, they may view larger dogs as competition or a threat, and smaller dogs may be seen more as potential prey for them.
“There was one incident of a coyote allegedly nipping at a dog and the other one coming up from behind and sniffing a dog while it was on leash,” said Hunt.
“If you’re looking for places to walk your dog in town, you should avoid that area to give the coyote some room and avoid any potential conflict.”
In spring 2018, a coyote family denned under a deck of a home on Glen Avenue and attacked and bit dogs in a defensive act to protect her pups.
In one case, a resident was riding her bike with her dog on leash when a coyote ran toward them and bit the dog. The coyote ran away and the dog was not seriously harmed.
The following day, the same resident’s daughter was walking the dog. A coyote sprinted toward them, but she managed to get back inside the home before it could attack the dog.
Hunt said it appears coyotes were trying to den under a deck on Glen Avenue again this spring. This may be the same coyote, but he can’t say for certain.
“We actually had indications of a coyote near someone’s deck again this spring and we went in and worked with the landowner and screened everything off ahead of time,” said Hunt.
“We thought we were ahead of the game, but it appears the coyote has found another site somewhere else.”
Earlier this year, residents and visitors to Banff were urged to keep their heads up following reports of three bold coyotes approaching people in search of food late at night and early mornings.
The first incident was reported on Feb. 6 near the 500 block of Banff Avenue, but some of the later coyote encounters happened to the northeast side of the townsite in the Deer Street area. In one instance, the coyotes approached an individual walking a dog.
At the time, it was unknown if the coyotes were a family group, or potentially younger sub-adult animals cut loose by their mom and venturing out on their own for the first time.
Meanwhile, the warning notice for the area around the Old Banff Cemetery indicates the warning is in place until June 26.
“If we’re able to identify that there is a den site it will probably persist longer. If we keep looking and don’t see any signs of pups or a den site, then we may take it off,” said Hunt.
“We’ll just watch for what sort of interactions and behaviour we’re seeing.”
Parks Canada reminds people to keep dogs on leash and make sure all wildlife attractants like food, garbage or dog food secured inside.
“If you do see an aggressive coyote in the area, please call Banff dispatch,” said Hunt.
The number to call is 403-762-1470.