British Columbia

Another person bitten by coyote in Stanley Park as conservation service pushes for education

Another woman has been bitten by a coyote in Vancouver's Stanley Park, officials say, bringing the total number of coyote attacks up to 16 since December.

Woman bitten on calf as she walked with friend on seawall

Coyotes have bitten or nipped at 16 people in Vancouver's Stanley Park since Christmas, according to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service. The tally includes an incident on Tuesday in which a woman walking on the seawall was bitten on the leg. (Harry Collins Photography/Shutterstock)

Another person has been bitten by a coyote in Vancouver's Stanley Park, officials say, bringing the total number of coyote attacks to 16 since December.

The woman was walking with a friend along the seawall west of the Prospect Point lighthouse around 9:15 p.m. PT on Tuesday when a coyote bit her left calf, according to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS).

The woman went to hospital with minor "pin-prick" injuries, the service said. Conservation officer Erich Harbich said a team responded and patrolled the area, but could not find any coyotes.

The service said there have now been 16 attacks by coyotes involving biting or nipping since Dec. 25 — a little more than three bites each month. 

Coyotes can be more visible and assertive in March and April as they prepare to raise pups, but officials say the behaviours displayed in the biting incidents are more consistent with the animals losing their fear of humans because they are likely being fed.

"We still continue to see this very bold, brazen behaviour of coyotes approaching people, lunging at them, nipping at them and making physical contact," said Harbich, adding there have also been "quite a lot" of additional "close" encounters since Christmas.

"Moving forward, we're working very closely with the [Vancouver] Park Board and Stanley Park Ecological Society to push education and awareness so people know the impacts of feeding coyotes — indirectly or directly," he added.

"Indirectly being, maybe, bird-seed feeding or breadcrumbs left behind. The coyotes, they're very smart animals and they learn behaviours very quickly and they're quick to capitalize on those opportunities."

A map from the Stanley Park Ecology Society shows where people have been bitten by coyotes between December 2020 and March 2021. It does not include the bite on the seawall on Tuesday. (Stanley Park Ecology Society)

A number of park-goers have called for aggressive coyotes to be removed from the park. Harbich said removal isn't outside the realm of possibility, but would only be a last resort.

"It's an option for sure, [but] it's something we want to avoid at all costs with any kind of response. When we reach a threshold of public safety where either learned behaviour cannot be reversed or is very unlikely to be reversed ... and poses a real and imminent safety risk, then, absolutely, removal is an option," he said.

Harbich said "only a handful" of coyotes are causing problems, so an additional challenge would be ensuring the service removed the correct animal. The service said it's pushing for education and awareness to solve the issue.

All the biting incidents since Christmas have involved adults walking or running in the park, most often between dusk and dawn. People in the park should not feed coyotes or leave food out for animals.

Anyone who has an encounter with an aggressive coyote is asked to call the provincial RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.

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