There are still between two and four coyotes living in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, and the park board says that number is expected to grow as the weather warms.
“With denning season in full swing, that number is expected to rise into the teens. As Stanley Park is an optimum habitat for coyotes, biologists advised have more animals will move in over the coming months,” a spokesperson said in an email.
Last September, the park was closed for two weeks after dozens of attacks on people – including several children — by what were described as “aggressive” coyotes that were too accustomed to humans to be safely relocated. A cull of the animals was planned, however only four were captured and euthanized before the park was reopened.
A spokesperson for the Vancouver Park Board says work has been ongoing since December of 2020 to manage the coyote population, and that access to food was the primary driver of the “extraordinary” change in the animals’ behaviour.
“Through monitoring, we learned that food was intentionally being left out for wildlife – eg dog food in the bushes and birdseed on the ground – particularly around Beaver Lake and Lost Lagoon. And that there are some people who regularly feed wildlife like raccoons for photographs ,” the statement from the park board continues.
Efforts to prevent encounters between humans and coyotes have, therefore, focused on preventing access to food. Fines for feeding wildlife were recently increased to $500.
“Ideally we wouldn’t have to hit people in their wallets with tickets to deliver that message,” the statement from the board says.
Other efforts include improving waste management in the park by making garbage cans more difficult for coyotes and other animals to access, and installing educational signage emphasizing the importance of keeping dogs on their leashes.
Ultimately, the board says the bulk of the responsibility for preventing more coyote attacks lies with people.
“Given the nature of wild animals, there is obviously no guarantee that there will never be another attack – but this relies heavily on changing human behavior to discourage human/coyote contact,” the statement from the board reads.
“Co-existence with wildlife is achievable but relies on group responsibility. With the public’s support, our goal is to keep wildlife wild and ensure that this situation never arises again.”
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Alissa Thibault
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