See a coyote in the Lower Mainland? Help it out by scaring it away
'We want to just remind them that they should be afraid of us,' conservationist says
Coyotes are known to be Wile E., but they're also easily scared.
A conservation group says as coyotes get ready to establish dens and birth their pups, scaring the animals will help keep them away from humans at a time of activity and defensiveness.
"If you see a coyote and you start feeling bad for it, don't," Greg Hart with the Stanley Park Ecology Society said.
"They're going to find a squirrel. They're going to find a rat. They're going to find a rabbit, something to tide them over.
"The best thing we can do is make sure we don't intentionally or unintentionally feed it."
Still, Hart says this year could see more coyote sightings or encounters than normal due to the cold winter.
Coyotes might have to look harder to find food and humans might be spending more time outdoors after being cooped up all season long.
'They should be afraid of us'
Hart describes coyotes as highly intelligent animals that will exploit whatever resources they can, including resources with a human origin: garbage, bird feeders, compost, wild fruit and even pets.
Hart says it's important to reduce these attractants, but it's also important for coyotes to keep their natural fear of humans to reduce conflicts.
"Just scare them away. They're only 20 to 35 pounds and we're obviously much bigger than that," he said. "We want to just remind them that they should be afraid of us."
The society says dogs should be kept on leashes and cats indoors to keep them safe.
If a person does come across a coyote, they are advised to hold their arms out, make themselves look big and shout at it.
Dens found in parks, golf courses, even homes
Hart says Vancouver has about 200 coyotes, and there are about 2,000 to 3,000 in the entire Lower Mainland.
He says while attacks on humans are incredibly rare, attacks on pets happen more often but are still uncommon.
"Domestic pets only make up one to two percent of their diet. … The vast majority, the other 98 percent of their diet, is made up of small rodents and vegetation."
He says in urban areas, coyotes make their homes anywhere they can avoid humans: parks, green spaces, ravines, golf courses, cemeteries and even vacant properties or parts of properties infrequently visited by humans.
Apart from actually seeing coyotes on their property, the presence of a coyote den can be detected by the sound of howling and the presence of scat the animals leave to mark territory.
The society is tracking coyote sightings and encourages the public to report sightings online to its website.