The Vancouver coyote survival guide: How to avoid a wily encounter

Mar 21 2023, 8:00 pm

For some, it’s not spring in Vancouver until there’s been talk about one of the city’s most notorious four-legged inhabitants: coyotes.

Coyotes begin breeding in January and the litters of pups are born in the spring aka “denning season.” While that might make for some adorable additions to the parks, it could also mean that coyotes are more “active” as they establish and protect their dens, according to the Vancouver Park Board, which oversees Stanley Park.

They are also looking for food for their young, and we all know how badly that can end.

There haven’t been any notable coyote encounters in Vancouver since action was taken to prevent them back in the summer of 2021, according to the BC Conservation Service, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility to suddenly find yourself facing off against one.

Coyotes aren’t usually a threat to humans. What made them so problematic for Vancouver was that some bad actors were luring coyotes out of the woods with food for the sake of wildlife photography or other purposes. This caused the coyotes to lose their fear of humans, which led to dozens of attacks, including some against children.

Under the Wildlife Act, you can be charged for feeding wildlife, including coyotes.

While there are certain times of the year when encounters with a Vancouver coyote are more likely, it could happen anytime, so we thought a survival guide could come in handy.

There are a few ways to prevent the worst-case scenario. The following information comes from the BC government and WildSafe BC.

How to keep yourself safe

If a coyote approaches you:

  • Make yourself as large as possible (if you’re sitting, stand up)
  • Wave your arms and throw objects at the coyote
  • Shout at the coyote, be aggressive and loud
  • If the coyote continues to approach, don’t turn your back or run away
  • Keep trying the steps above while slowly moving to safety

How to keep your kids safe

If you find a wild coyote nearby:

  • Keep your children inside
  • Wait till the animal has left the area
  • If you need to, pick up your children and carry them away
  • Don’t leave children unsupervised

How to keep your pets safe

  • If you keep your pets outdoors, check on them regularly
  • WildSafe BC says that coyotes can kill pets that run loose
  • Don’t allow your dog to play or interact with wild canids like coyotes or wolves
  • Remove attractants

Other tips

If you keep a compost bin, ensure it’s secure and has a lockable lid. Conservation experts also suggest using something to mask odours that your compost may give off.

If you’re in the middle of an encounter, do not stop to take pictures. As mentioned before, never, ever feed wildlife. Not only is it an offence, but it could also make predators more comfortable around you.

In extreme cases, WildSafe BC suggests you can carry deterrents like noisemakers or bear spray.

Amir AliAmir Ali

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