Due to StMU’s position adjacent to Fish Creek Provincial Park, we get all kinds of animals on campus, some of which are native to prairie ecosystems. With the fall semester back in session, campus will be the busiest it has been since our prairie restoration project began, and because of this, we thought it would be helpful to share some information on some of the animals that share our campus, and how to act around them. We have already written about Richardson’s ground squirrels and how they provide many helpful services to prairie ecosystems. Because of their important role in maintaining prairies, we ask that anyone on campus refrain from approaching or feeding the ground squirrels, to prevent them from becoming tame and reliant on humans, especially since they are due to begin hibernation before October. Refraining from feeding animals applies to any species you see on campus, but especially to those that could harm you, namely deer and coyotes. The most common species of deer on the StMU campus is the white-tailed deer, although mule deer may also be present. These large mammals live in Fish Creek Provincial Park, and occasionally make their way to campus in search of food. While often shy, deer are strong animals who could cause injury if approached, so they are best admired from a distance.
The same is true of coyotes, except perhaps the shyness. Coyotes often roam campus alone, but they can also form groups, and either can be injurious to people if they become aggressive. Again, these animals are better left alone. The most rare animal visitors to campus include bobcats, cougars, and bears. Conflict with these animals, especially cougars and bears, should be avoided at all costs, but a guide on how to navigate conflict if it does occur can be found here.