Coyote traps set in the Dunstaffnage-Marshfield area

Coyote traps have been set in the Dunstaffnage-Marshfield area after an incident where a teenager was approached by a pack of the animals while riding her pony last month.

'You need to feel safe, and right now, I don't feel safe walking out through the fields'

This photo was taken Feb. 25, 2017 in Dunstaffnage, in a field nearby to where the 17-year-old was approached by a pack in July. (Submitted by Wendy Anderson)

Coyote traps have been set in the Dunstaffnage-Marshfield area after an incident last month where a teenager, Sam Johnston, was approached by a pack of the animals while riding her pony.

Johnston and her pony managed to run away unharmed after the coyotes walked towards her in a V-formation, not far from her Dunstaffnage home. 

The incident scared the family enough that they contacted the province's fish and wildlife division to request a trapping permit. Shelley Fraser, Johnston's mother, said she wanted the boldest coyotes dealt with.

In July, Sam Johnston went for a ride on her pony, Mr. Billy, not far from her family's property in Dunstaffnage, P.E.I. when five coyotes came towards her in a V-formation, she said. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

The province confirmed on Tuesday that a permit to trap coyotes in the area of the incident has been issued and that the traps are killing traps. The permit length is two weeks.

Fraser said traps have been set and all neighbours have been notified and told to keep their dogs at home.

She added that the traps are in the woods, and not in a place where someone might accidentally come upon one.

'It has to be done'

Wendy Anderson, a Dunstaffnage resident, has seen coyotes near her property many times. Last February, she saw four of them cross the field behind her home. It was both impressive and concerning to see a whole pack, she said.

She feels the traps are necessary.

Wendy Anderson has spotted coyotes near her Dunstaffnage property many times over the years. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"It has to be done. If they've become that much of a nuisance that they're actually threatening people and threatening us and our animals, then it needs to be done … They've gone after a girl on a pony. That's a threat."

The coyotes have her worried about her two dogs and her cat, so she keeps a close eye on them when they're outside. 

Now that the traps have been set, she makes sure that the dogs are on leashes when she takes them out for walks.

She said that coyotes are a part of P.E.I. and that people need to respect that they're here. The traps are not meant to be vindictive, she explained.

"You need to feel safe, and right now, I don't feel safe walking out through the fields anymore."

The coyotes in the Dunstaffnage area have Wendy Anderson worried about her two dogs and cat. She keeps a close eye on them whenever they're outside. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

CBC spoke to some residents who aren't pleased with the traps. They said they're concerned about their own dogs getting caught in the traps and whether it's humane to trap the coyotes.

Outside the regular season

Garry Gregory, a wildlife biologist for the province, wrote in an email to CBC that the trapping is handled by an experienced trapper.

"When Fish and Wildlife determines that trapping coyotes outside of the regular season is recommended to remove specific individuals and/or to influence the behavior of a group of coyotes, a nuisance permit is issued to an experienced trapper," he wrote.

He added that the designated trapper works "closely with the property owner and Fish and Wildlife to develop a course of action that will address the issue."

The department could not confirm the number of traps that have been set, saying the number of traps is not determined by the permit, but is at the discretion of the trapper.

"The trapper provides regular updates to Fish and Wildlife, and upon expiration of the permit the situation is re-assessed to determine if further action is required," the statement from Gregory read.

About the Author

Katerina Georgieva

Katerina Georgieva is a multi-platform journalist with CBC P.E.I. She has also worked for CBC in Toronto and Winnipeg.