West Vancouver teen chased by pack of coyotes on way to school

Oct 20 2021, 4:01 pm

A Metro Vancouver mother says that her son is “traumatized” after being chased by a pack of coyotes on the way to school.

Coralynn Gehl and her family live in West Vancouver with her 13-year-old son, who attends a nearby high school. She says that the terrifying incident occurred on Monday morning just before 8 am; her son was walking to the bus stop, as he does most mornings.

“He was walking down the hill, looking at his phone and not paying attention to his surroundings at all, because he’s a 13-year-old boy,” she tells Daily Hive in an interview. “And he looked up and down below our street, and about a block away from him, he saw four coyotes just standing in the middle of the road. And they were all staring at him.”

When the teen stopped and noticed the coyotes, a fifth one came out from the bush and started walking towards him — and the other four followed.

“At that point, he did all of the things you’re not supposed to do,” Gehl says. “He panicked and turned and ran back to the house. Fortunately, he was really close to the house.”

Her son told her that by the time he was nearing the door of their home, he turned and looked behind him to see the coyotes at the bottom of the driveway.

After the 13-year-old told his parents what happened, Gehl’s husband ran outside to check for the animals. He didn’t see them, but a neighbour walking his dog said he had noticed several coyotes just moments before.

“We were pretty freaked out,” Gehl says. “It’s not behaviour that you expect. We live in a neighbourhood where we’re used to coyotes. We see them on a very regular basis, but we see them one or two at a time. And as soon as they see people, they bolt into the bushes.”

Gehl ended up calling both conservation offices and 9-1-1. She adds that while coyotes aren’t usually an emergency situation, her neighbourhood is frequented by young children that walk to a nearby elementary school.

“The police officer had told me that conservation likely wouldn’t do anything after a single sighting, which didn’t make me very happy,” she says. “So we called conservation officers, and we made sure to stress that this was not just a sighting, this was really unusual and aggressive behaviour.”

When a conservation officer called Gehl back, they told her that there wasn’t much that could be done since no physical contact was made. Now, Gehl is encouraging all Metro Vancouver residents to report unusual occurrences with coyotes, no matter how small.

“The takeaways from that conversation was that everyone needs to report every unusual interaction with a coyote, anything basically that doesn’t involve a coyote bolting as soon as you see it,” she says.

The conservation officer also told Gehl that the incident was “a complete anomaly” and something that he had never heard of happening on the North Shore. He also explained that coyotes in other areas of Metro Vancouver aren’t habituated to humans like those in Stanley Park.

But for Gehl, the coyote problem now feels all too close to home.

“That was our first thought when he said he’d been followed,” she says. “We talk a lot about what to do if you see a bear or a cougar, but coyotes never crossed my mind.”

As for her 13-year-old son, Gehl says that he’s “pretty shaken up” — adding that they’ll be walking him to the bus stop until he feels more comfortable.

“He feels safe walking in this neighbourhood, and he’s encountered bears before,” she stresses. “I think this is the first time he’s really felt unsafe walking in the neighbourhood, and for me, that’s really heartbreaking.”

Vincent PlanaVincent Plana

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