Thursday, September 23, 2021

Canada: Coyote Attacks Finally Trigger Official Response in Vancouver


Urban coyote, public domain, National Park Service image

In Vancouver, Canada, an infestation of urban coyotes, particularly in Stanley Park, has lead to dozens of attacks on humans by the coyotes since December of 2020. Over 45 attacks were reported as of September 1, 2021. Most of the attacks involved adults, with five involving children. It is suspected a great many attacks have not been reported. The number of attacks in the last nine months is four times greater than the total of the previous 40 years, as reported in the Guardian.  A local TV station reported on the attacks.    From

Although many encounters have likely gone unreported, so far 45 people, including five children, have been attacked by coyotes in Stanley Park.

The B.C. Ministry of Forests confirmed in a statement Wednesday that it is stepping in as soon as possible and “undertaking direct coyote management controls that include lethal removal to ensure human safety."
The problem is not limited to Vancouver. The city of Pitt Meadows, a few miles to the North, is also experiencing problems. From 9 Autust, 2021
The City of Pitt Meadows is warning residents of coyotes on local trails.

At least one report has come in to the city of coyotes on the trails near Mitchell Park.

In an online post the city is asking residents to be cautious, to leash their pets and keep children close at all times.

The common reason given for the problem, as explained in the Canadian press, is the feeding of coyotes by humans. This habituates coyotes to humans and associates humans with food. It is a contributor.  This is not a new problem. It has been studied extensively.

The primary reason is *not* people feeding coyotes. It is the increase in coyote population beyond the available food supply. This is expected and natural. There is no "balance in nature" beyond what is achieved through starvation and death. 

The problem of attacks on humans occurs when the increase in the population of coyotes is combined with their artificial protection from humans. When coyotes are protected from human predation, they lose their fear of humans. They start to explore the potential of humans as prey. From Management of Conflicts Between Urban Coyotes and Humans in Southern California  p. 310:

The motive for predatory behavior of coyotes is not always hunger (Connolly et al. 1976) or protection of dens, as demonstrated by many of the attacks discussed in this review. While the availability of food from humans in urban and park settings contributes to the attractiveness of the habitat to coyotes, their loss of fear of humans would not occur without a lack of aggression by people. Human activities, including organized trapping programs, sport hunting, and other activities that resulted in scaring coyotes away, reinforced the coyote’s inherent wariness of people. But, changes in human attitudes toward the protection of all wildlife have resulted in coyotes, taking advantage of their opportunity to frequent prey-rich, human-created environments without harassment.

Valerius Geist shows this is a predictable pattern with both wolves and coyotes. In North America, wolves were not a problem because the population was commonly armed. Wolves quickly learned to avoid humans.  From When do Wolves Become Dangerous to Humans?

Why did wolves kill no human that we know of in the 20th Century in North America (but did so in the 19th?)

The short answer is that (a) wolves were historically very scarce, in part due to severe prosecution, (b) the North American population is heavily armed, (c) because hunted wolves are exceedingly frightened of humans and (d) because an open hunting season leads to the quick removal of “misbehaving” wolves, well before they can cause damage.

Wolves have killed, and continue to kill many people in Russia and India, because of political preferences. The governments of those people want to keep them disarmed. In the Soviet Union, news of wolves killing people was censored to prevent a demand for arms among the rural population.  From When do Wolves Become Dangerous to Humans?

This policy of silence pertaining to wolves killing people also explains earlier actions, such as failure to record wolf attacks on people after the fall of the Czar in the October Revolution, as well as the subsequent reports by some Russian authors that all tales of man-eating wolves were fictitious. It was not in the interest of the communist party to permit an armed citizenry, which is the only effective antidote to wolf attacks.

When Texas Governor Rick Perry shot a coyote which had targeted his dog, his action was emblematic of what is necessary to keep coyotes respectful of humans.

Perry says he needed just one shot from his laser-sighted pistol to take down a coyote that was menacing his dog during an early morning jog in an undeveloped area near Austin.

Texas recently removed restrictions on the ordinary person carrying handguns in most public places, most of the time. Thus, the ordinary person in Dallas, confronted with an aggressive coyote, has the option of terminating the encounter without having to go through the burdensome process of informing a large bureaucracy, waiting for the bureaucracy to respond, and hoping sometime in the future, other people will not be victimized.

In spite of dozens of attacks by urban coyotes in Vancouver, there are thousands of people in British Columbia, who do not want the coyotes culled. From 4 September, 2021

Thousands of British Columbians are calling on the province to stop the coyote cull it has planned for Stanley Park. Over the next two weeks, officials will be trapping and killing up to 35 coyotes.

This comes after 45 coyote attacks were reported in the past nine months in the park.

A petition started by Leilani Pulsifer a month ago, Save Vancouver’s Coyotes, has already gained more than 9,520 signatures (as of Saturday afternoon), and people continue to digitally sign their names.

This shows the power of propaganda in portraying coyotes as furry humans who should be protected by the rule of law.  Humans would not tolerate furry humans who have no concept of right or wrong, who view other humans as potential food, who cannot understand of the rule of law, and who may attack at any instant.

There is no lack of coyotes. Coyotes are commonplace animals. 

Humans are the top predator in the food chain all over the planet. With this power comes a responsibility to manage the natural world to preserve what we find beneficial for future generations.

The British Columbian approach uses top-down management. It is expensive, with concentrated power to implement centralized decisions.

The individual rights approach, demonstrated by Governor Perry, uses dispersed power in the population to enforce safety with minimal expense, at the individual level.

The management of dangerous wildlife populations by humans can be done well by bureaucracies which are responsible to their constituencies.

Examples can be seen in the Wisconsin and Montanan approaches to controlling wolf populations.

Effective self protection does not conflict with wildlife management.  The political desire to disarm people is a separate issue. 

If Canadians were allowed to carry guns and to use them responsibly against aggressive animals, the urban coyote problem would be quickly eliminated in Vancouver.

©2021 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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