A number of coyotes have been killed in Stanley Park after a series of aggressive encounters.
Signage at Stanley Park reads, “coyotes are well adapted to living in cities. They are naturally wary, but if they become too comfortable with people, they may act aggressively.”
“Conservation Officers believe multiple coyotes are involved in incidents in Stanley Park and are continuing efforts with park rangers, area organizations, the municipality and wildlife biologists to address and reduce coyote conflicts,” reads a posted statement from the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
“The public is asked to use abundant caution in Stanley Park, as there is a high risk of encountering an aggressive coyote,” it continues.
The government of British Columbia has outlined the precautions you could take in the likelihood of encountering a coyote, which is a key takeaway for visitors to Stanley Park to discourage coyote behaviour.
“We do have reason to believe feeding coyotes … is a contributing factor,” said B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Simon Gravel at a news conference.
The number one thing people can do is to avoid feeding the coyotes. The park authorities could start making better efforts to penalize individuals who feed wildlife. In general, coyotes avoid human contact, but when humans start feeding them, they lose their fear and get aggressive because humans are then associated with food. Coyotes could be being fed directly, or indirectly when people leave behind food items or waste.
Also, do not let your pets off the leash. Unattended pets are an easy attraction for coyotes as they sometimes hunt livestock. Pets who are trained or not should always be in control and leashed. Vancouver could do a better job of communicating the importance of keeping pets on their leashes in the park.
All food and garbage should be securely disposed of to avoid attracting coyotes with food. It also means using enclosed bins for compost, and avoiding composting meat and fish scraps.
Evidence suggests that coyotes are not picky eaters but do prefer meat, and if people continue to leave food behind without consequences, the problem will only get worse.
The Humane Society of The United States recommends that parks increase the cleaning and maintenance regime so that fruits or seeds fallen from trees can be cleared out. A safety awareness program should be conducted based on the measures outlined by the government of B.C. on how to conduct yourself if you witness or encounter a coyote.
Deterrents and repellants should be easily accessible to the public if they are to protect themselves from coyotes. Whistles, sticks, horns, bells, and bear repellents are some of the commonly used tools to prevent wildlife encounters.
Increasing patrolling hours for an immediate response could also help with all of these issues. Patrollers could also enforce the hours of operation and make sure people stay out the park in non-daylight hours, as coyotes generally hunt during the night.
Although coyote attacks are rare unless they familiarize themselves around humans, we can take a few simple measures to reduce the conflict between humans and wildlife.