Coyote-feeding Stanley Park busts ‘significant first step’

Coyote-feeding Stanley Park busts ‘significant first step’

Two people were arrested and a vehicle seized in connection with feeding coyotes in Stanley Park on the day the park reopened after a coyote cull

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A Vancouver-based organization dedicated to protecting fur-bearing animals has praised the arrests of two people in Stanley Park in connection with the feeding of coyotes.

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On Wednesday, the Conservation Officer Service (COS) announced the arrests along with the seizure of a vehicle.

South Coast Region Insp. Drew Milne of the COS said the arrests occurred Tuesday, the day the park was fully reopened to the public after a two-week closure for a coyote cull.

“The direct feeding or placing of attractants out to lure dangerous wildlife such as coyotes is a dangerous activity and creates a public safety risk,” Milne said in a video posted to the COS’s Facebook page.

Because the investigation is active, he said he wouldn’t release any specific details.

“The COS is taking this matter seriously,” he said.

“It is not normal for coyotes to approach or pursue people. Aggressive behaviour toward people is almost always the result of the animal becoming too comfortable to humans due to being fed either directly or indirectly.”

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He said while people feeding wildlife might feel like it’s the right thing to do, it’s a behaviour that has a “dramatic cause and effect relationship.”

Since last December, there are been 45 attacks on humans by coyotes in Stanley Park. So far, 11 coyotes have been killed, including four in a recent two-week cull which was carried out the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs: Visitors to Stanley Park get their directions to the sights, as well as some pointed warnings in different languages about not feeding the wildlife, in the park on Wednesday.
Signs, signs, everywhere are signs: Visitors to Stanley Park get their directions to the sights, as well as some pointed warnings in different languages about not feeding the wildlife, in the park on Wednesday. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

Lesley Fox, executive director of the Vancouver-based The Fur Bearers, said the arrests and seizure of a vehicle is a “significant first step. We’re really glad to see the COS take this effort.”

She said the circumstances of the arrests would indicate that something more than “casual feeding” was going on.

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“It’s almost commercial in scale. When you start seizing vehicles, it’s really significant — as opposed to, say, having half a granola bar in your pocket.”

Fox said the enforcement of no-feeding laws needs to take place at the local, municipal level and not be left to provincial conservation officers.

“The COS is so understaffed, so underfunded,” she said. “It’s not their job to babysit Stanley Park.”

A coyote near Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, pictured last April in a photo taken by Bernie Steininger, who was out for a walk in the park.
A coyote near Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, pictured last April in a photo taken by Bernie Steininger, who was out for a walk in the park. Photo by Bernie Steininger /Submitted photo

Stanley Park, she said, deserves attention and a significant budget and allocation of resources, including toward animal welfare.

She said that if the park is repeatedly described by the tourism industry as the “crown jewel of Vancouver,” why is it  so overlooked?

“Part of that is committing to animal welfare,” she said.

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“Animals are part of our environment. If Vancouver wants to be the greenest city, part of that includes co-existing with wildlife.”

Fox said she recently visited Stanley Park and saw numerous cases of people feeding wildlife or baiting wildlife by leaving food for them. In some cases, she said, it’s for photographs she suspects are being posted to social media.

“You can imagine how desirable it would be to have a coyote on your social media feed,” she said.

“The appetite for social media is at the point where it puts ourselves at risk, our own health and safety, and the health and safety of animals.

“Unfortunately, there is no doubt in my mind that feeding wildlife ultimately leads to their death.”

She said if people see posts on Instagram, Twitter or other social media showing people feeding and baiting wildlife, report it to the provincial RAPP Line at 1-877-952-7277 and to the City of Vancouver tip and information line at 311.

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Other measures taken by the park board include installing wildlife-proof garbage bins that are designed to ensure coyotes can’t access waste food. As well, the board said in a news release that it’s looking at the legal framework around current municipal bylaws “to seek enforcement abilities.”

Following the coyote cull, the park board said wildlife experts believe there are a “small number of coyotes” in the park” but that the “immediate threat to humans has been addressed.” The board advised people to exercise caution if they see a coyote, especially near dusk or dawn.

kevingriffin@postmedia.com


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