As with most cities, it is common to see wildlife in Saskatoon. Animals that can be seen in Saskatoon include coyotes, skunks, foxes, moose, deer, rabbits, porcupines, beavers, muskrats and many others. The City of Saskatoon offers some limited services related to wildlife, you can see further details in the accordions below.
If you have concerns about wildlife in Saskatoon please call Urban Biological Services at 306-975-3300. If there is an emergency after hours, please call the 24 hour customer service center at 306-975-2476. For concerns about larger animals (e.g. moose, deer, bears) contact the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment at 306-933-6240.
Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis) are native to North America. Skunks are well adapted to urban areas and are commonly found in Saskatoon. Skunks are most active from dusk to dawn, but can be seen during the day particularly in the fall and winter. In urban areas, skunks den under sheds, decks and porches. Skunks release an oil that produces a pungent odour. Before spraying, they give warnings such as stamping their feet, vocalizing and raising their tail. Skunks eat a variety of food including pet food, insects, eggs, small rodents, plants and bird seed.
Skunks are recognized by their thick black fur with white strip down the back. They are about the size of a cat and have a bushy tail, short legs and visible claws, their paw prints are very similar to cats.
Skunks can carry and transmit rabies. Rabies is primarily transmitted through bites from an infected animal. People are not likely to be bitten by a skunk, but pets can contract rabies from skunks. It is important that your pets receive vaccinations, as recommended by your veterinarian.
Our Pest Management section offers a skunk trapping service for those residents that find a skunk den site in their yard. We only set traps at residential locations, if a trap is set at your location you must check the trap every morning and night, if you are unable to check the trap is should remain closed. It is especially important to check traps on hot days. If a skunk is trapped keep pets away to avoid causing additional stress for the animal. Do not feed the skunk in the trap. If you encounter skunk den sites on non-residential properties you can contact a local pest management company for assistance. To have a trap set a your residential property you must have a location within your yard site where the trap can be secured
What you can expect from us
- Skunk trapping and removal service is offered for residential locations where a den site has been found in April and again from August 1st to October 31st each year, we do not offer trapping during denning season from May to the end of July to ensure that mothers are not separated from their young.
- When a call is received we will dispatch a technician from Pest Management who will inspect the area and determine the most appropriate course of action
- We will remove the animal and trap once we are notified that an animal has been caught
How you can help us
- Ensure that garbage, bird seed and pet food are contained and inaccessible to skunks
- Prevent access underneath sheds and other structures by putting L-shaped barriers below grade
- Remove wood and other construction waste that can shelter skunks or harbor insects that skunks feed on promptly
- Ensure that gates and fences remain in good repair to prevent easy access by skunks to your property.
Coyotes (Canis latrans) are members of the dog family, native to North America. They resemble a medium-sized dog, with adults weighing 10-18 kilograms (20-40 pounds). Long winter fur often makes these animals appear larger. Coyotes are up to 1.5 meters long including the tail, and stand about 60 cm at the shoulder. Males are typically larger than females. Coyotes vary in colouration but their fur is usually reddish-brown to gray. Coyotes tend to walk in a straight line and will often form well packed trails within their territory. Coyote tracks differ from dogs in that the print is much narrower.
Coyotes can be found throughout much of North America. Coyotes are being seen with increased frequency in many urban centers including Saskatoon. They tend to be found in open spaces like parks and school grounds but can also be seen in residential neighbourhoods especially in the winter months.
Throughout much of the year coyotes are in the city, but they are rarely seen as they are primarily nocturnal and often stay in territories which typically include larger open spaces such as naturalized parks. In the winter coyotes have different habits, which can include activity throughout the day and increased frequency in residential areas. This is especially true of young coyotes which do not have established territories and are seeking food and shelter. Coyotes will seek shelter under decks and other structures and will often feed on fruit, bird feed (especially containing lard or suet), and pet food.
Coyotes and disease
Rabies is rare in Saskatchewan and rare in coyotes. In Saskatchewan the most common carriers of rabies are bats and skunks. Coyotes are not common carriers and are rarely involved in the transmission of the disease to humans or pets. Coyotes can be carriers of canine distemper and Echinococcus multilocularis, a tapeworm that can be found in the digestive tract of coyotes. It is important to remember to vaccinate pets and provide de-worming medication on a regular basis.
Coyotes and pets
Coyotes will occasionally act aggressively towards dogs and cats. Aggression towards dogs is more likely to occur when coyotes have pups in their den. If a negative encounter (displaying barred teeth, charging towards a dog) occurs, act aggressively towards the coyote and scare the animal away. Remove the dog as soon as possible. Although rare, coyotes can feed on smaller pets such as cats and small dogs. It is important to keep pets supervised when outside and especially in natural areas such as the off-leash dog parks.
If you encounter a coyote
- Allow the coyote to escape by identifying and maintaining escape routes for them
- Never approach and never attempt to feed a coyote
- Do not turn your back or run
- Act assertive, yell and wave your arms (act Big, Bad and Loud!)
- Keep pets under control to avoid creating additional stress for the animal
- If the coyote is acting unusual (approaching people, limping, staggering or acting confused) DO NOT APPROACH, call Pest Management at 306-975-3300.
What you can expect from us
- We will monitor coyote activity in the City of Saskatoon and place warning and information signs in areas with coyote activity or den sites
- We will provide educational materials to the public about keeping coyotes out of your yard and how to have safe encounters with coyotes on public property.
How you can help us
- Reporting coyote sightings by calling Pest Management at 306-975-3300
- Secure your yard with fencing and ensure that gates remain closed
- Do not feed pets outside
- Clean around barbecues, bird feeders and fruit trees
- Remove and prevent potential hiding and den sites
- Install motion activated lights
The most common species of bat in Saskatoon is the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus). This species will often roost in homes and old buildings. All bats in Saskatoon feed on insects and it is common to see them foraging at night. Bats eat large quantities of night flying insects including moths, beetles and flies (including mosquitoes). If bats are disturbed from a roosting site or during the spring and fall migration, it is possible to see them during the day. If you see a bat during the day leave it alone as it will likely leave during the evening.
Reproduction and life cycle
Bats hibernate from November to May. The females form maternity or brood colonies. This is where the pups are born. The brood colonies can be found in barns, houses, trees and crevices. The colony size can vary from less than ten to several hundred individuals. Males will roost singly or in small groups. Young bats can fly at approximately 6 weeks. Mating occurs in the fall.
A bite from any animal can be dangerous and if you are bitten you should consult a physician. Bats can carry rabies and potentially transmit rabies to people or pets. Rabies is a serious neurological disease that is often fatal. If you observe a bat lying on the ground do not touch it, as it may be sick or injured. These can be reported to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan 306-242-7177 or the City of Saskatoon, Parks Division 306-975-3300. It is important to have your pets vaccinated against rabies.
What you can do?
Bats are protected under the Saskatchewan Wildlife Act and cannot be killed. If you find that you have bats in your home, exclusion is the best option. This can involve installing one way doors so that as bats leave they cannot re-enter. This should not be done in July and August when the pups cannot leave the roost. Pest control companies can assist with the installation of a one way door. Installing a bat house in combination with exclusion methods increases the likelihood that bats will change their roost location.