Note: 4 of the estimated 35 coyotes culled in Stanley Park, Van, BC as of September 17, 2021
Before the cull…
For the past 8 years, my view of Stanley Park has given me a peaceful vibe. It has been my refuge, my workout zone, my taste of nature… Now, it feels… ominous – not overly ominous. But it’s scary to think a coyote could jump out from behind a tree at any moment and bite me!
I resented those coyotes for turning the park into a hostile place.
It’s sad to think of them trapped and euthanized – culled, killed. They had become domesticated – in other words – people were feeding them. They can’t be relocated.
My runs through the park had been carefree most of the time. Yes, the occasional off-leash dogs terrorized me, but I wasn’t afraid of the crows, geese, seagulls, herons, squirrels and chipmunks – previously the ‘wild’ animals of Stanley Park.
What would you do if you saw a coyote?
I had to figure that out – quickly. Nothing like a coyote sighting at 7:20 am to wake me up.
About 30 feet away, it walked with purpose as if it owned the park. The strong, healthy specimen looked like it should be on a National Geographic cover. It wasn’t even looking at me, but I stopped breathing for a second. It kept walking. Should I go forward? Nope. I backed away… slowly.
The coyote walked east toward English Bay parallel to Park Drive. My usual path down through the trees, past the Ranger’s house to the seawall was now a dangerous route…
I turned around and lifted my foot to run away but stopped when I saw a woman waving at me, ‘Don’t run. Make yourself look big.’
I think I knew that. But my ‘flight’ instinct had kicked in. I did everything wrong. I felt slightly nauseous.
She told me she walked through the inner park trails up to 16 kilometres most days.
‘I know. I just yell and wave my arms. They don’t bother me.’
She kept walking.
‘Where are you going?’ I asked.
Brave or dumb? I wasn’t sure which.
I went home, wondering if she would become another bite statistic.