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Living Alongside Wildlife

Part of the attraction of living in Church Ranches is the rural aspect of our neighbourhood and access to the common lands that serve as a nature preserve and wildlife sanctuary. Church Ranches is host to an amazing array of natural plants and a wonderful, wide range of wildlife. This attractive setting is inviting to some animal visitors who might present more of a security threat than others if we don't exercise common sense and caution when exploring the park areas, particularly during certain seasons. These animal visitors even can show up in our backyards if food sources are available. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

BEARS    

While it's not common to see a bear in Church Ranches, it is possible. Church Ranches homeowners found evidence of bear presence on August 25, 2021, and one Church Ranches family got a picture of the bear in their backyard. Bears are active from April 1 until November 30 (give or take!) and can show up in residential neighbourhoods. Winter is around the corner and bears are preparing for hibernation. Church Ranches has plenty of food sources for bears, including berries on the common lands (and in yards) and fish in the lakes. Bears use lake shores for travel routes and feeding sites. For our safety and theirs, we need to do our part so that bears do NOT associate humans with food. Here are some precautions that you can take:

  • Take waste, recycling and organics bins out the morning of collection rather than the night before. 
  • Keep compost bins inside.
  • Remove birdfeeders during times when bears are active (April 1-November 30) and clean up any bird seed that may have spilled on the ground.
  • Clean your barbecue after each use and/or have it stored in a garage or shed.
  • Remove fruit trees and berry bushes from your property. If you can't BEAR to remove them, pick the ripened fruit as early as possible.
  • Never leave food out to feed any wildlife. This can harm the wildlife by making them human-dependant or by providing them food that isn't part of their natural diet.  You also may attract more than you bargained for.
  • If you've seen a bear nearby, let your neighbours know and call Fish and Wildlife: 403-932-2388 or the the 24-hour Report a Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.

Please exercise caution when enjoying the common lands. Remember that bears are more active at dusk, night and dawn. Make noise when hiking, running or fishing. Consider fishing with a friend so that you can keep watch for each other. If you are taking carp out of the lakes, please clean the fish at home rather than on the lake shore or dispose of the fish in proper garbage containers. Seal fish you are taking home in plastic bags and wash your hands.


If you encounter a bear, here are things that you can do:

  • Do not approach the bear or provoke it by yelling or throwing things at it. Make sure it has an escape route.
  • Do not panic and run away. Keep children and dogs close and calm. Gather members of your group together and stay together.
  • Back away slowly and find a safe place in a building or a vehicle.


For more information on bears, please see the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Facebook page. You may also find information at Alberta BearSmart and Parks Canada's Safe Travel in Bear Country.


COYOTES   

Seeing or hearing a coyote is a common occurrence in Church Ranches. Coyotes signal a healthy ecosystem and help to control the population of other wildlife, like rodents. Here are ways to help us live harmoniously with coyotes:


  • Clean and maintain bird feeders year-round.
  • Remove fruit bearing trees and shrubs on your property. If this isn't an option for you, maintain the trees and shrubs, pick the fruit as soon as it is ready and clean up any fallen fruit.
  • Take waste, recycling and organics bins out the morning of collection rather than the night before.
  • Keep cats indoors.
  • Do not leave pets in your yard unattended.
  • Clean up after pets: dog poop attracts coyotes.
  • Do not leave a pet's food or water bowl outside.
  • Keep dogs on leash except in designated off-leash areas. While the Church Ranches common lands currently allow single, controlled dogs to be off leash unless encountering other people, you may wish to keep them on leash to avoid encounters with coyotes and other wildlife.
  • Remove low branches on trees that can provide hiding places for coyotes or attract small animals, particularly near children's play areas.
  • Use durable wire mesh to close off spaces under decks, steps, patios and outbuildings. Close off spaces that may be used as a shelter or den.

If you encounter a coyote, here are things that you can do:


  • Make yourself appear larger by waving your arms overhead. Thrust long objects like a walking stick toward the coyote.
  • Throw rocks, sticks or other objects toward the coyote.
  • Shout in a deep voice and maintain eye contact with the animal.
  • If the coyote continues to approach, back away slowly and move toward buildings or human activity if the coyote continues to approach.
  • Do NOT turn away or run from the coyote: This will encourage it to chase.

For more information on coyotes, please see: Human-wildlife conflict - Coyotes.


MOOSE    

Moose can make appearances any time of the year in Church Ranches. They are a magnificent sight to behold, and it's fun to see a moose calf. Most times moose are not aggressive, but there are situations in which a moose may be stressed and could charge or attack. A cow moose may feel she needs to protect her young, or a bull moose might be provoked in a fall rut.  Some signs that a moose may be agitated include:


  • Raised neck and back hairs
  • Snorting
  • Laying ears back
  • Licking lips.


Here are some ways to avoid a moose conflict:


  • Keep your distance, even if the moose seems at ease and calm.
  • Don't yell or throw things at a moose in an attempt to scare it away.
  • Don't let your dog agitate the moose by either barking or charging at it.
  • Don't approach moose calves that appear to have been left by the mother. Assume she is not far away and that she will be very protective of her young!
  • Find a different route or wait for a moose to leave if it is blocking a route that you want.
  • Keep escape routes clear, including in your yard. Keep curtains drawn on patio doors and large windows so that moose don't mistake them for escape routes.


If you are charged by a moose:


  • Run away - moose are not predators. Try to find a car, tree or building to hide behind.
  • If you get knocked down, curl up in a ball and cover your head for protection. Don't try to fight.

For more information on moose, please see: Human-wildlife conflict - Moose.

OTHER WILDLIFE

There is plenty of other wildlife in Church Ranches, including bobcats, foxes, deer and geese. For more information from the Government of Alberta on how to avoid conflicts with our animal-kingdom neighbours, please see: Human Wildlife Conflict.



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