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Four Stanley Park coyotes killed one week into cull

Last Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 5:39 pm PDT

FILE — Signs warning visitors in Stanley Park about coyotes. (CityNews)

Stanley Park coyote cull underway for about a week, four animals put down so far

Wildlife staff monitoring things as they try to learn more about the animals' behaviour

Long-term safety plan being worked on will likely go in place once the park fully re-opens to the public

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A week into the cull at Stanley Park, four coyotes have been trapped and euthanized following dozens of attacks over the last few months.

Initially, the Ministry of Forests said within two weeks, up to 35 coyotes could be killed. The ministry has now told NEWS 1130 it’s possible there are fewer coyotes in the park than anticipated.

“It is hoped additional observation can shed more light on actual numbers of coyotes,” the ministry says.

Wildlife staff have increased their monitoring in the 4 km² park to learn more about the animals, which they say are habituated.

On Sept. 1, the Conservation Officer Service said one coyote that was killed “showed no fear of people.”

“It walked up to within one metre of officers who were shaking a container of food,” the Service added in a Facebook post.

Long-term safety plans are in the works to address people’s behaviour, access to food and garbage for animals.

When the cull was scheduled, many animal rights groups spoke out about the decision to euthanize some of the population, as well as B.C. musician Bryan Adams, who took to social media to criticize the cull.

A petition calling for the province to reconsider was created in recent weeks by a UBC applied animal biology student, and it has already surpassed more than 19,000 signatures.

People opposing the cull have said they’re concerned “culling is an ineffective method of dealing with the aggressive interactions that are happening” in the greenspace since coyotes have contributed to wildlife population control in the park.

Earlier this month, an animal law lawyer, Rebeka Breder, told NEWS 1130 she had a lot of concerns around culling and wondered how the province will know the coyotes of concern have been killed.

“Killing is not the solution. It really isn’t. It is not a long-term solution … There are two main reasons for that.

“First one being is that unless you kill every single coyote — which is almost impossible to do, because we don’t even know how many coyotes are in the park — that could actually it’ll leave a smaller population in the interim, but that smaller population is going to start breeding and that could actually lead to an unintended higher population of coyotes. And the other reason culls don’t work, is because other coyotes will just move in and then what, [we] kill [them] again?”

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Breder added she believes killing the coyotes, in general, is “completely inhumane.”

Since December 2020, more than 40 people have been injured, including several children.

The Ministry of Forests says, “The decision to lethally remove the coyotes was not the Province’s first choice, and only comes after considerable effort into finding other alternatives to prevent the incidents.”

“These actions are essential to ‘reset’ the park environment for sustainable coexistence with the coyotes.”

A vigil is scheduled for Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Vancouver Park Board headquarters.