A local family is grieving the death of their dog who they say was killed by a group of coyotes in the river valley on Sunday.

Shannon Butler was out with a group of friends on the MacKenzie Ravine walking their dogs.

“It was like any other walk, any other day,” Butler told CTV News. “We’ve taken Charlie and our other dog down this ravine hundreds of times.”

The dogs were not leashed, and after running off, Charlie, her 110-pound Bernese Mountain, did not come back with the group.

Butler and her husband told CTV News Charlie was attacked by a group of coyotes on a river bank.

“I was with my son, my 13-year-old son, and we came across his body and he had been shredded, unfortunately. It was a very traumatic scene,” Butler said.

A University of Alberta professor told CTV News it is mating season, and that could explain why they killed a large dog.

“It’s rare for coyotes to injure, let alone kill a dog that large,” Colleen Cassady St. Clair said. “The circumstances, though, were somewhat predictable, given that it’s mating season for coyotes they would have been acting more territorial than they were a few weeks ago."

Butler and her husband, Mike Slobodan, asked the city if they could get rid of the coyotes, but St. Clair doesn’t think that would make a difference.

“They seem not to change in population size, and sometimes the population size increases.”

The couple said new city signs warning of coyotes could have stronger wording, and advice dog owners to keep their pets on a leash.

With files from David Ewasuk