Wildlife in our cities and towns
For detailed information on preventing human-wildlife conflict with bears in Alberta, see:
Alberta towns and cities have developed rapidly and many urban areas have expanded into what was, until recently, natural wildlife habitat.
Having wildlife in the city has many benefits. By feeding on pests, many wild animals make great neighbours for humans. Carnivores, such as coyotes, hawks and foxes, prey on abundant rodent species like mice. Bats and skunks feed heavily on insects.
Wildlife helps enhance the biodiversity of urban green spaces and gives city dwellers viewing opportunities that enrich their appreciation for Alberta wildlife.
Living with urban wildlife
Many animals, such as coyotes, foxes and magpies, have readily adapted to life in the city. Permanently removing these species from urban areas is not possible. Removing these animals only leaves vacancies which other animals can fill.
The following simple precautions reduce the risks associated with wildlife in urban settings:
- Never feed wildlife. Wildlife feeding on food from people and human-use areas not only prevents wildlife from getting nutrition from natural food sources, it teaches wildlife to associate people with food. This can lead to problematic, even dangerous, situations that may result in human injury and/or wildlife being destroyed.
- Never approach wildlife. It may be stressful for wildlife when someone enters their territory. Over time, wildlife can become accustomed to people, increasing the risk of negative human-wildlife encounters. Always respect the "personal space" of wildlife to help them stay wild. Also keep in mind that bats, skunks and foxes are carriers of rabies and, if seen acting oddly, must be avoided, even if your intention is to help.
- Keep your dog on a leash. Even well-trained dogs cannot fight their instinct to bark and chase. This can stress wildlife and cause them to dart into traffic or lead to other unsafe situations such as a defensive attack.
- Keep your cats indoors. Cats allowed to roam make easy prey for coyotes and foxes. Coyotes and foxes that learn easy prey can be found in a neighbourhood will return to that same area for future meals, creating potential new problems for the community. Keeping cats indoors also helps protect the native songbirds that frequent the city.
- Keep your garbage in a secure container with a lid. Make sure your garbage containers are in good condition. Household waste appeals to wildlife as a source of easy meals.
- Remove food and shelter that attracts wildlife to your property. Clean your yard of all garbage, pet foods, bird seed, fallen fruit and berries that can serve as a food source for wildlife. Potential shelter, such as the spaces under decks, patios and outbuildings, should be closed off with durable wire mesh.
- Drive carefully. Slowing down when driving near parks, river valleys, golf courses and other green spaces lessens the likelihood of collisions with wildlife.
- Teach your children about wildlife in the city. Children should be taught to make safe decisions and respect wildlife by never feeding or approaching wildlife, putting garbage into garbage cans, not running away when they see coyotes or foxes and keeping their pets leashed and supervised.