Coyotes play a pivotal role in central Alberta ecosystems, but they also pose a challenge for wildlife managers. It is not clear if coyote ecology varies along urban – non-urban gradients, however, there is increasing concern regarding human conflicts with coyotes, especially in an urban setting. Understanding when and where coyotes are most active will allow for more effective management plans that strive to minimize coyote encounters.

The objective of this study is to assess the circadian (daily) activity levels of coyotes in relation to human activity levels and to determine if diurnal activity levels differ across site types. The research took place in the City of Edmonton and Strathcona County, with 15 study sites in urban, rural and natural areas. Remote trail cameras were installed at each site and were left running 24 hours a day, for 15 days. Images of humans and coyotes were then used to calculate a relative activity index.

Coyotes were found to be active throughout the day in natural areas where human activity levels are consistently low. In rural and urban areas, a high level of human activity was correlated with lower levels of coyote activity. Coyotes in urban areas were not more active during the day than rural coyotes, which was unexpected. Rural coyotes, however, were significantly more active during the nocturnal period than urban coyotes were. Coyotes in rural areas are subject to direct human exploitation, which likely explains the decrease in diurnal activity levels when humans are most active and spikes in nocturnal behaviour similar to coyotes in natural environments. Urban coyotes may be less active during the day, as aggressive or nuisance coyotes that are more present during diurnal periods are removed from the population through wildlife control measures. Another explanation is that urban coyotes have become habituated to human activity and their activity levels are more constant throughout a 24 hour period. More research is required to determine if population densities or seasonal variation can affect the activity patterns of coyotes.