Airdrie residents are being warned to keep their eyes peeled for coyotes after two reported attacks on humans in a week.
According to a notice on the city’s website, the two attacks happened on Dec. 14 and Dec. 17 in Nose Creek Park, where the annual holiday family attraction the Festival of Lights is taking place.
“The parks department is very concerned with the brazenness of the coyote(s) in this area,” the notice reads.
One of the people bitten was six-year-old Andrew Bergen, who was visiting the Festival of Lights with his mother, Elizabeth Bergen, and her boyfriend.
Andrew recounted the coyote running towards him, growling when he reached the bottom of the slide.
“My heart was beating so fast,” he said.
Andrew was at the bottom of the slide at the park playground when he was bitten on the shoulder/neck area of his jacket, his mother told Global News. Thanks to his tough snowsuit, the animal didn’t break any skin and the suit was still intact.
The boy is doing well, his mom said.
WATCH: Airdrie officials are warning people to watch out for coyotes after two people, including a six-year-old, were attacked in a matter of days. Lauren Pullen reports.
A spokesperson for the city said the problem has been ongoing for several months and the animals have been getting progressively bolder, adding that one dog was bitten and another was lunged at.
The city said the department is taking “immediate action to maintain safety” and working with Alberta Fish and Wildlife to determine a plan to deal with the animal or animals involved.
Until the festival closes, officials will be patrolling the park starting Tuesday night.
According to the city, a wildlife control contractor was able to hit the coyote believed to be involved in Monday’s attack with a paint gun which should make it is easier to identify.
After a “higher volume” of coyote-related calls — including ones about aggressive animals — over the past month, the city said it’s been working to make them feel unwelcome. That started with hazing and scent deterrents (bear urine) in the Bayside, Midtown and Nose Creek Park areas. Live traps have also been set.
“It is important to note that coyotes will continue to be common in the city,” the city said. “They are a natural predator that benefit our ecosystem by controlling rodents, rabbits and other pests but they become a problem when they lose their fear of humans.”
Airdrie resident Eric Donegani said he’s seen as many as seven coyotes in the park at one time. He walks his dog Webster there frequently. Not long ago, Webster was surrounded by two coyotes.
“I yelled at the coyotes and they eventually ran away and left,” he said.
Officials encourage anyone who spots or has an interaction with a coyote to report it by calling 403-948-8400, adding the reports help with mapping the animals’ movements and determining a plan to control them.
More information on coyotes and what to do in the event of an encounter, as well as information on coyotes and pets, can be found on the City of Airdrie website.
– With files from Lauren Pullen
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