March 19, 2021

Spring brings return of our wild neighbours

Safety tips for sharing campus with wildlife
Dianne Draper

Spring sees the return of warmer days and more active wildlife, even in a busy city like Calgary. With the season starting on March 20, UCalgary reminds visitors to take special care within the main campus, University District and surrounding neighbourhoods, as wildlife and their offspring (for example, pups, fawns) may be present in the area.

This can include rabbits, skunks, birds of prey, as well as deer and carnivore species like coyotes and bobcats who use our campus as habitat throughout the year. UCalgary takes a co-existence approach to wildlife but, while these animals do not present significant threats to the university, safety is the top priority for both wildlife and humans.

“With less visitors on campus due to COVID-19, the conditions are ripe for wildlife to be present. As we return to work or increase recreation on campus in summer, it is important, more than ever, to be aware of your surroundings to limit interactions with wildlife,” says Dr. Shelley Alexander, MSc’97, PhD’02, a professor in the Department of Geography.

Coyote pup

Shelley Alexander

Should you encounter larger wildlife on campus or near the University District, follow these basic steps to ensure your safety:

  • Remain calm.
  • Give the wildlife space and let it move away from you — back away and speak calmly.
  • Look to be sure you are not between an animal and its young. If you are, move away quickly and calmly to allow the animal to have a direct line of sight or access to the young.
  • Never turn your back on the animal or run away.
  • If a coyote or bobcat approaches and you feel concerned, clap your hands sharply, raise them above your head, clap again and sternly say, “Go away.”
  • In the rare case that an animal continues to approach, you can distract it by opening an umbrella, snapping open a plastic bag, or throwing a rock or small object near (not at) the animal.
  • If your child or pet are approached by an animal, bring your child or pet close to you, follow the steps above and move away slowly.
  • Report encounters to UC Security immediately at 403-220-5333. Campus security is on-site and available on a 24-hour basis. Safewalk services are available to persons on campus to and from buildings and parking/transit locations.

Other reminders for ensuring the safety of both you and wildlife include:

  • Never feed wildlife.
  • Never approach animals, especially not young animals, dens or pups.
  • Obey leash bylaws on campus and supervise pets while outdoors.
  • Dispose of all food items at picnic areas in designated receptacles or take it home.

For more information on living with wildlife on campus, contact Shelley Alexander at