Got coyotes? Researchers want to photograph them on residential properties
Goal of study is to find out where most of Vancouver's 200 coyotes roam and devise humane deterrents
Researchers at the University of B.C. and the Stanley Park Ecology Society are on the prowl for urban coyotes and have launched a program that aims to capture more of the animals on camera.
"They are rather elusive," said Dr. Kristen Walker, a UBC animal welfare biologist. "They're used to living in an environment such as this where they are good at hiding and making their presence not really known."
Walker hopes to find residents who routinely see the animals on their properties so that cameras can be installed to accurately track their coming and goings.
Researchers want to scientifically test deterrents — such as motion-sensor sprinklers — that could be used in urban settings to reduce conflicts between the animals and humans.
"Loud noises and loud lights, they're used to seeing that in an urban environment," said Walker. "So we need to be able to find a device that has a combination of that, that is effective in deterring animals off of people's property if there is a perceived conflict."
There are about 200 coyotes living in Vancouver and thousands more across Metro Vancouver, according to the Stanley Park Ecology Society. For the most part, people rarely see the animals, which are most active at night as they hunt for rodents, their main food source.
However, every so often, the animals get too comfortable around humans and problems arise.
In May, a three-year-old child was bitten on the head by a coyote in Burnaby. Conservation officers said the animal had become accustomed to people feeding it.
Researchers like Walker and the Stanley Park Ecology Society's Madeline Chan say it's best for coyotes to maintain a healthy fear of humans.
"They have a natural fear of people and we want to encourage that," said Chan. The society encourages people who do come across coyotes to make loud noises.
Meanwhile, researchers are hopeful about cameras installed in backyards like Tom Lee's.
Lee lives on a lush, sprawling property in Burnaby and often sees wildlife.
"About a week ago I was cutting the grass and a deer came out here and it walked all the way around with me around the whole yard," he said.
'Get along with them'
He's interested to know what the cameras will turn up and wants to do his part to help animals like coyotes thrive in urban landscapes.
"I just love the animals and we have to get along with them," he said.
Other residents who see the animals are asked to contact the Stanley Park Ecology Society about getting cameras on their properties.