Unlike Stanley Park, coyotes don't seem to be getting more aggressive in the Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Unlike Stanley Park, coyotes don't seem to be getting more aggressive in the Okanagan

Nick Clements captured a photo of this coyote on Wood Lake.
Image Credit: Nick Clements/ @nickclemo
August 15, 2021 - 6:11 PM

Coyotes are becoming increasingly aggressive in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, but they don't appear to have caused any extra trouble in the Okanagan for decades.

More than 30 coyote attacks have been reported in Stanley Park since December 2020. As recently as Aug. 11, a woman was bitten while jogging along a popular trail, and on Aug. 10 a 5-year-old boy was bitten.

B.C. Conservation Officer Service continues to urge the public to stay out of the park in a statement posted to Facebook yesterday, Aug. 12.

“If you are in the park, use abundant caution, as there is a high risk of encountering an aggressive coyote,” it reads.

Pete Wise, an urban wildlife specialist from Vernon, believes a number of factors are causing the coyotes to become more aggressive in Stanley Park, the 400-hectare rainforest located just blocks from Vancouver’s downtown skyscrapers. One reason why those coyotes are able to thrive is thanks to a bounty of abandoned house pets.

“That’s a beautiful wild spot there,” he said. “People dumping off rabbits and house cats, they’ve been doing that for years. The coyotes are having a real good time there.”

Pete Wise has given 50 years to search and rescue, and doesn't plan on quitting any time soon.
Pete Wise has given 50 years to search and rescue, and doesn't plan on quitting any time soon.
Image Credit: Contributed

Since the coyotes are sharing a confined forest space with numerous humans every day, the likelihood of an encounter is far greater in Vancouver.

“People are doing uneducated things, like letting your kids run out in front of you on the trails. If they’re hungry, and people are doing dumb things … they’re creatures of opportunity.”

He said most hikers in Stanley Park aren’t expecting wildlife encounters and don’t usually think about bringing protection.

“People go in there and they’re not prepared for it, they’re not expecting to get bit by a coyote.”

Coyote attacks are occasionally reported in the Okanagan, and the animals cause problems for house pets and livestock – but Wise doesn’t believe the local coyotes are becoming any more aggressive.

“Not so much here, they’re about the same,” he said, adding that the population is kept down because of trapping efforts, which are most active in the winter time.

“I’m 74 now, been doing this since I was like, 10.”

Wise said he carries wasp spray with him on trails as a means of protection for coyotes. It can spray up to nine metres and is cheaper than bear spray. In the event of an unwanted coyote encounter, he recommends hikers stand their ground.

“Be aggressive towards a coyote, yell at the coyote, don’t be turning around and running from him because he’s going to bite you in the back of the leg, they do that in fight-or-flight response.”

He also takes a walking staff on hikes for protection.

“And I’m fully prepared to use it, and I have in the past, and it works good… go out there and arm yourself.”

When hikers go into areas where they may encounter wildlife, it’s important to keep dogs on short leashes, and not let children run too far ahead, Wise said.

Among the coyotes Wise has dealt with over the course of his career, he said the average one weighs about 28 pounds, and that they’re smaller but stronger than most people would expect.

“The little guys are in the 20 pound range.”

The coyotes in the “big range” span between 36 and 38 pounds, though he’s never seen one reach 40 pounds.

For anybody dealing with nuisance coyotes near their property, Wise recommends hiring an expert. To keep coyotes off sections of land, he suggests building a five-foot fence with rolled tops.

READ MORE: Coyotes in southern Interior getting early start on mating season thanks to mild weather

Stanley Park in Vancouver
Stanley Park in Vancouver

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