WARD PERRIN/Sun files
URBAN COYOTE: A coyote ignores traffic as it
lopes along Cypress Street around 41st Avenue.
Coyote shot after biting girl, 12, in Vanier Park
A Vancouver wildlife conservation officer shot and killed an urban coyote in a Kitsilano park after the animal bit a child and attacked pets.
Dennis Pemble, a wildlife control officer with the ministry of the environment, killed the anima Tuesday morning in a wooded area at the eastern edge of Vanier Park.
Pemble said the action became necessary after the ministry received "dozens and dozens" of calls regarding the aggressive behaviour of this particular coyote.
Over the past month, dog owners have been pursued as they fled the park with their pets, hot dog-toting children were approached, and cats and dogs in the neighbouring residential area were attacked and, in some cases, killed by the bold coyote.
The final straw was an unprovoked attack on a 12-year-old girl two weeks ago in the park. Fortunately, the coyote did not carry rabies and the bite did not break the skin. It frightened the girl, however.
"The situation has really thrown a scare into some people," says Mike MacIntosh, a supervisor with Vancouver parks and recreation who has received about a dozen calls a day regarding the coyote since the beginning of April.
However, both Pemble and MacIntosh stress that only a few coyotes are aggressive and that is usually because people have fed them.
"It is unfortunate that the coyote has to pay the price for our careless feeding," says Pemble, "We hate to destroy wildlife, but we have to protect the public."
Few animals aggressive
A sample taken from the stomach of the exterminated coyote showed it had just eaten a full meal of cooked chicken; a far cry from a coyote's usual diet of mice, rats and rabbits. Kristine Lampa, executive director of the Stanley Park Ecology Society and author of a master's thesis on urban coyotes in the Lower Mainland, said that a park patron was observed feeding it a White Spot hamburger. "It is eating well it is probably eating better than a lot of people in Vancouver."
There are roughly 200 coyotes in Vancouver and 2,000 to 3,000 in the Fraser Valley. But despite the large numbers, according to MacIntosh, there are only three or four aggressive coyotes around the city and they reside only in selected areas. These include English Bay, VanDusen Botanical Gardens and Stanley Park places where people congregate and provide the coyotes an opportunity to find food.
MacIntosh says that despite some aggression, there are no plans to destroy this small contingent. "If it were to be done, it would only be after careful consideration."
Pemble says more coyotes would be killed only if animals bit humans or pose a safety concern.
Keeping pets safe from coyotes
- Feed your pets indoors.
- Keep your pets indoors at night and under close supervision during the day.
- If you have a bird feeder, ensure the grain isn't falling to the ground. Coyotes will eat the overspill.
- Don't leave compost or garbage open and accessible to wildlife.
- Consider making your cat an indoor cat.
- If you have a small dog, keep them on a leash. If you are in an off-leash area, ensure you are in control of your pet and able to call it back.
- If you think a coyote is trying to play or mate with your dog, chances are it is trying to eat your dog, so don't let them run together.
- If you keep your dog outside in the backyard, construct a good fence, one that extends from the ground up about 1.8 metres (six feet).
What to Do If you are Approached by a coyote
- Never feed a coyote.
- Stand up and be tall and loud. Wave your arms in the air and yell.
- If you are threatened or concerned about an aggressive coyote, call the environment ministry at 582-5200. They will monitor the situation and, if necessary, remove the animal.
- For general information about coyotes and other urban wildlife contact the Stanley Park Ecological Society at 257-6907. They have educational videos, brochures and staff available to answer questions.