What to do when you see a coyote in Metro Vancouver

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It may be striking to see a coyote out and about in our urban environment, but they are actually natural residents in the area. With several sightings lately, here’s a bit of info about what to do when you see a coyote in Metro Vancouver.

Colin Edington told Vancity Buzz he ran across a coyote Friday morning in the West End in the Jervis and Comox area. There’s also an active thread on Vancouver Reddit discussing coyote sightings, including one Thursday at a playground in Chinatown.

“In B.C.’s Lower Mainland for example, there is estimated to be 2,000-3,000 urban coyotes,” explains the B.C. SPCA.

Having adapted to urban life thanks to the ease of traveling from deforested areas through cleared corridors for railway, highways, and hydro, coyotes have been making lives for themselves in Metro Vancouver for the past several years.

Coyotes seen roaming around the city are doing the same thing the rest of us are: Trying to feed our families to survive. Of course, coyotes go about this differently, and giving them a helping hand can do more harm than good.

“They primarily eat small mammals – rats, mice, shrews, voles, squirrels, and rabbits. Being opportunists, coyotes will also eat just about anything – garbage, compost, fallen fruit, seeds from bird feeders, and pet food,” adds the B.C. SPCA. Coyotes also like family pets, like cats and dogs.

Not only is it important to keep your pets safe from coyotes, but it is also important not to provide coyotes with food.

“Coyotes are normally very timid animals, but when human-food is involved they learn to be more comfortable around people and that can lead to conflicts,” Dan Straker, Urban Wildlife Programs Coordinator with Stanley Park Ecology Society told Vancity Buzz earlier this year.

Straker says if anyone encounters a coyote, the best thing to do is to put their arms over their head and yell “Go away coyote,” to both scare it and alert other people in the area.

Being vocal and scaring away the coyote will help it understand that it should be fearful of humans and not go to them for food.

A second vital thing to do when you spot a coyote is to file a sighting report. You can file a coyote spotting report online through Stanley Park Ecology Society. They post a monthly map of the collected sightings online.

Volunteers log the reports onto the map. In October so far there have been numerous sightings in Stanley Park and in the West End, as well as in Strathcona, and a pet attack in South Vancouver, among others.

Photo courtesy Colin Edington

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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