VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Stanley Park’s coyote population is set to be reduced significantly in the coming weeks as B.C.’s Ministry of Forests said stronger measures will be taken, including trapping and killing up to 35 coyotes.
The ministry told NEWS 1130 the move is due to the steady increase in the number and severity of the attacks by coyotes in the park. Since December 2020, more than 40 people have been injured, including several children. Seven coyotes were euthanized by the BC Conservation Officer Service.
Signs were put up around the park warning about the aggressive animals, and threats of fines were issued to anyone caught illegally feeding the wildlife.
“However, these actions have not been enough to ensure public safety in the park and stronger measures will now be taken,” the ministry wrote in a statement.
Traps will be set up in the park “starting very soon” between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. daily, the locations will not be made public in order to deter vandals. Fences will also be set up by staff with the Vancouver Park Board.
“Trapping will be undertaken by professional contractors, employed by FLNR. The traps will be ‘live-capture’ and coyotes will be subsequently humanely euthanized,” the ministry wrote.
Animal rights group responds
The Fur-Bearers and Coyote Watch Canada said they are left feeling anger and sadness over the decision from the ministry.
The animal rights advocates said “It isn’t only the lack of communications that has allowed the Stanley Park situation to grow, but lack of enforcement,” they wrote in a statement criticizing the Vancouver Park Board.
The ministry said biologists and conservation officers studied the non-lethal option of relocated the animals, but determined it was not possible because the animals are so food conditioned and human-habituated.
As well as, “The number and severity of the attacks indicates this conditioning is widely spread through the local population,” the ministry said. Adding, “Coyote relocation is difficult even without these factors. Coyotes are highly territorial and would be in direct conflict with whatever local population they were introduced to,” it wrote.
After attacks over the weekend, the Vancouver Park Board extended the nightly closures at Stanley Park to the hours of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Coyotes vs. Concert
The closure and recent attacks prompted many questions surrounding a concert Friday night in Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl.
It’s the first of many shows set to be held at the venue, and there has been no direction to suggest any cancellations as a result of the park’s overnight closure.
The Sheepdogs said the show would be going ahead, and advised fans to show up early due to the traffic concerns.
The band wrote on social media Thursday, along with a cartoon of Wile E. Coyote from the Looney Tunes.
“No damn coyote is gonna stop a Sheepdogs show! We are aware of that there are closures happening in Stanley Park due to coyotes,” the post read in part.
No damn coyote is gonna stop a Sheepdogs show!
We are aware that there are closures happening in Stanley Park due to coyotes. But rest assured, the show is STILL HAPPENING!
Please try and arrive before 7pm and use PIPELINE ROAD. Let’s party in the park tomorrow night! pic.twitter.com/SoshhvoAVi
— The Sheepdogs (@TheSheepdogs) September 2, 2021
Fans are being told to leave right after the concert ends.
There are 10 rangers on nightly patrol of the park in order to enforce the closure and deter any interference with the animals and forthcoming traps, the ministry explained.
Park closure extended
Meanwhile, the park board announced as of Friday evening, the closure of Stanley Park to non-essential access will be extended from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.
Previously, the park reopened at 7 a.m. each morning.
The park board said the extension has been put in place to support the Ministry of Forests in their efforts to address the number of coyote encounters in park.
“It will remain in effect until the situation has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties working across this response,” the park board says.
With files from Sonia Aslam