According to BC’s Conservation Officer Service, the coyote “lunged and bit” the child on the leg. Thankfully, he is recovering and rabies has not been reported.
Wildlife relations are a tricky thing. We always assume a certain amount of risk, no matter how small, the moment we step out into the wide world we share with wildlife. It’s also one thing to be attacked by an animal deep in the forest. But to have a child attacked in the middle of an urban park is certainly cause for concern. As with each encounter and/or attack, however, this one serves as a learning experience, too.
By their Wednesday post to their official Facebook account, British Colombia’s Conservation Officer Center is “investigating after a 5-year-old boy was attacked by a coyote in Stanley Park” on the night of August 10.
“During a family walk at Prospect Point at approx. 9:30 p.m., the boy was running ahead when a coyote lunged and bit him on the leg,” the report continues.
After the initial attack, “His parents chased the coyote away,” they clarify, before noting “the child suffered minor injuries.”
Thankfully, the 5-year-old has been treated and released from the hospital in the days since.
Coyotes have become a significant presence in urban areas, where they thrive on humanity’s scraps, small livestock, and often pets. While we can never assume to be 100% safe at all times, there are absolutely measures to take to lessen the chances of an attack.
For example, the child was bitten during a “night walk.” It is never advisable to walk a park with access to deep wilderness at night. Coyotes, like many large predators, are mostly nocturnal and hunt at night. If you live in an area known for their presence, take extra caution and avoid night strolls.
‘Public is Concerned’ About Coyote Behavior Near Border
On both sides of our American/Canadian border, aggressive coyote behavior has become a problem. The hitch, however, is that the coyotes themselves are testing their hunting limits. Which, to us, humans, translates as aggression. Wherever we share habitat with large predators, though, is just that – shared habitat.
“We recognize and understand the public is concerned about these incidents,” continues BC’s Conservation Officer Service to this end. “We are also concerned about the behavior of coyotes in Stanley Park. No one wants to see anyone injured by a coyote, especially a child, and we are thankful he is recovering.”
Regardless of animal behavior, public safety is also paramount. As such, “The COS continues to urge the public to stay out of Stanley Park… If you are in the park, use abundant caution, as there is a high risk of encountering an aggressive coyote.”
To help ease local citizens, conservation officers are currently patrolling Stanley Park. “The COS continues to work with wildlife biologists, park rangers, area organizations and the municipality to consider all options to address and reduce coyote conflicts.”
“Conflict” is an apt word. Coyotes were once a shy species, but like many have become habituated to humans. Such brazen behavior has become the norm in many urban areas. To avoid a conflict yourself, stick to daytime excursions whenever possible, and remember to keep all children and pets as close as possible during later hours.