Stanley Park trails closed as coyotes birth pups and take to dens
'Our hope is that we're going to see this healthy co-existence,' park board coordinator says
The Vancouver Park board is closing off some trails in Stanley Park as coyotes carefully guard their dens and the litters of pups inside.
Denning season is in full swing, said park board environmental stewardship co-ordinator Dana McDonald, and park staff have received a number of reports of coyotes' presence.
"People have reported being having coyote encounters. The majority of them are sightings," McDonald said.
"We will remain vigilant and continue with efforts to make sure there are no attractants left around and that people aren't feeding, because that is the key driver for this aggressive behaviour, is a coyote associating food with humans."
While coyotes are denning we’re closing some trails - inc Reservoir Trail & parts of Eagle and Hanson trails in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyPark?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StanleyPark</a> - to give them space to raise their families without being disturbed. Please respect trail closures as marked and keep pets away. <a href="https://t.co/3yHKoXl4Ak">https://t.co/3yHKoXl4Ak</a> <a href="https://t.co/Mz2a2UcGL7">pic.twitter.com/Mz2a2UcGL7</a>—@ParkBoard
There haven't been any aggressive incidents like the numerous coyote attacks reported in 2020 and 2021, she said, which led to 11 coyotes being killed by Ministry of Forests staff.
Still, to keep safe distances from humans and coyotes, several trails are now off-limits.
McDonald said Merilees Trail and Siawash Trail are closed, as are some trails north of Beaver Lake. The park board posted on Twitter that Reservoir Trail and parts of Eagle and Hanson trails are closed.
McDonald said one example of behaviour that has been seen in recent months has been "escorting."
"It's a common behaviour that coyotes exhibit during denning season because they are on high alert," she said. She elaborated that someone might be walking along a trail and a coyote could pop out of a hiding spot near their den and follow the walker.
"I carry on walking along the trail and the coyote sort of mirrors my actions, following me a little bit, but not getting any closer to me," she said.
"If you just keep carrying on, that coyote will stop once you're far enough away from its den."
McDonald said the key messages to park users are to avoid feeding coyotes, don't litter, keep dogs on-leash, report sightings to park rangers and aggressive incidents to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
"Our hope is that we're going to see this healthy co-existence with humans and coyotes and … keep physical distance between people and coyotes," she said.
Denning season, she added, could last until June.
The park board says staff will determine when the trails will reopen "based on how long the coyotes need for breeding and initially raising their pups."