A recent Coyote attack on a five-year-old in Vancouver’s renowned Stanley Park has raised visitors’ security concerns. There has been a rise in these attacks since December 2020. Scientists suggest that this unusual behaviour may result from the likelihood of coyotes finding human food on trails.
The latest attack, which occurred on the night of 10 August 2021, around 9:30 p.m., is the second attack on a young child. British Columbia’s Conservation Officer Service reported that a coyote bit a 2-year-old on the night of 12 July also.
The boy was running ahead of his family in excitement when a coyote bit him on the leg. His parents drove the animal away. The boy sustained minor injuries and was later discharged from the infirmary.
Urban wildlife Program’s coordinator with Stanley Park Ecology Society, Nadia Xenakis, said that the accident was unfortunate. According to her, only eight coyote attacks were reported in the lower mainland. However, the numbers have surged drastically to 40 in the last eight months since December 2020.
She feels that signboards with clear and graphic images are necessary because some people who do not understand English might get an idea.
As revealed by Xenakis, a signboard bearing warning in large letters with a coyote’s image has been designed by the society to warn visitors and locals that the park is vulnerable to attacks. But it took time to get this approved by the state’s administration.
The society also recommended installing animal-proof trashcans to prevent coyotes from getting access to human food, which is the likely reason for the animal’s erratic behaviour. The administration has not installed any of them yet.
CBC published an interview of a member of the park’s board. He said the installation of warning signs at various locations in the park has started in full swing to make visitors aware of the danger.
The trashcan designs are yet to receive approval from the city’s sanitation department and will take quite a while. The park’s society believes that visitors have to change their behaviour towards the wild animal as it is their act of feeding them and leaving human garbage behind after a party that is allowing the population of 12 coyotes to sustain and thrive.
Four animals were euthanised in a bid to stop the attack in the first week of August 2021. Researchers from British Columbia University are trying to unravel the secret behind the aggression of coyotes. They termed the face-offs and attacks of coyotes on humans as unprecedented. They cannot conclusively explain the reason behind the new conflict.
According to Kristen Walker, a wildlife biologist with UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems, the park has housed 12 coyotes for years. This kind of behaviour was never witnessed before. Coyotes have not shown aggression of any kind against humans around the world.
Leftover food from park goers, undisposed human garbage, increasing frequency of late-night visits, and decrease of human fear among wild animals are identified as factors that are triggering aggression in coyotes.