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Three-legged survivor

Mike Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 06/06) - A three-legged coyote written off last winter as having little chance for survival appears to still be making the rounds around town.

Donald Large said he saw the same animal that appeared in Yellowknifer last March outside the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool on Monday evening.

He said the full-grown coyote he saw that night while walking his dog was missing about a third of its right leg, like the one that appeared in the newspaper.

The animal has been previously described as about the size of a German Shepherd and grey in colour.

"The coyote looked wonderful," said Large.

"It looked very healthy, it had a beautiful coat of fur. It was obviously hobbling but in no obvious sign of distress.

"I'd say it is making living eating garbage."

Large said he couldn't confirm the coyote's sex but it appeared to be female.

"We were standing close enough that we would've had a shot of his equipment if it was a male," said Large.

Raymond Bourget, senior wildlife officer with Environment and Natural Resources, said his office receives reports about the three-legged critter every two or three weeks.

The animal was first sighted last January by Wal-Mart and Stanton Territorial Hospital. It's also been seen around Gitzel Street near Frame Lake.

Wildlife officers originally planned to capture and destroy the animal because they didn't think it would survive if relocated outside of town.

Last winter, the department placed a number of wire snares and leg-hold traps around the airport in an attempt to capture a population of coyotes that frequently ran onto runways, endangering air traffic.

That plan was eventually shelved after no coyotes were captured. The animals apparently moved away from the airport on their own.

It's unclear how the three-legged coyote lost its limb. None were found in traps at the airport.

Bourget said while there are currently no plans to capture the three-legged coyote, wildlife officers will if it becomes aggressive with people.

He is troubled because people have been feeding it and other coyotes in town, which may embolden them to approach people if they think they have food to offer.

"I saw one incident where coyotes were reported in an area, and when I went there, there was fresh meat still steaming on the snow," said Bourget.

The three-legged coyote, in particular, has taken to begging along roadsides where it hunches down by passersby hoping to get a free meal, said Bourget. "If it's left alone, and people take care of their garbage and don't feed it, it will go about doing its business and pose less of a threat to people."