Vancouver residents seeing more urban coyotes wandering during pandemic
COVID-19 protocols and restrictions have resulted in fewer people outside and more wildlife spotted
By Jacob Van Luven
Some Vancouver residents believe that they are seeing more coyotes than usual in the past few weeks.
Sites like Reddit and Twitter have seen an increased amount of people sharing photos of coyotes in Vancouver.
“Yes, there is a general concept that there are more coyotes around this year than there have been in previous years,” said Maurice Jenkins, a compulsory wildlife inspector who also runs an animal trapping business.
WildSafeBC, a program designed to reduce human-wildlife conflict, said that on average, the B.C. Conservation Office Service receives approximately 1,100 coyote reportings a year.
According to WildSafeBC’s Wildlife Alert Reporting Program, there have been 68 reported coyote sightings in Vancouver within the last six months — of which several sightings were in South Vancouver. In the previous year, there were only 41 reports.
The BC SPCA estimates that there are between 2,000 and 3,000 urban coyotes living in the Lower Mainland. They have earned the reputation of hunting and feeding on small pets.
Coyotes in the neighbourhood
However, hunting is vital to our ecosystem, according to the BC SPCA, as coyotes are also a major rodent predator.
BC SPCA wildlife welfare manager Andrea Wallace said that dogs and cats are not a major part of their diet. “It’s just an opportunistic food they might come across.”
The Conservation Officer Service, a public safety provider on natural resource law enforcement, suggests keeping dogs on leashes and being mindful of letting small pets roam freely outside as they could be easy prey for coyotes.
“Wild coyotes are naturally curious animals, however, they are timid and will usually run away if challenged,” the Conservation Officer Service says on its website. “Coyotes start posing a risk to people when they lose their wariness and become comfortable around humans — this is usually a result of direct or indirect feeding by humans.”
“They generally don’t want to come into contact with people,” Wallace said. Though, if you are approached by a coyote, the BC SPCA suggests making yourself appear big and yell loudly to scare it away. It is important that you do not run as this will often cause the coyote to pursue you.
Coyotes are likely feeling bolder with the fewer people wandering the streets due to the COVID protocols. The B.C. government continues to use 2003 guidelines from a document titled Furbearer Management Guidelines, which says, “In areas where disturbance from humans is low, coyotes may show higher levels of activity during the day.”