Vancouver’s Stanley Park has been a popular spot for runners for years, but if you live in the area, you may want to log your kilometres elsewhere this spring. According to conservation officials, there have been 15 coyote attacks on people in the park since Dec. 1, 2020, and most have been on runners. Among them was Azi Ramezani, who was bitten by a coyote while running on the sidewalk by the Hollow Tree on Stanley Park Drive on Jan. 21.
Since the attacks began, officials have closed several of the trails in the park, but the park itself has remained open. Ramezani, who was attacked on a sunny day around 5 p.m., is now looking at a recovery period of about six months. In an interview with the news outlet The Province, she said she believes officials should have been discouraging people from going to the park completely — not just to stay away from specific trails.
“You don’t expect an animal to attack you by a road with other people and traffic,” she said. The way the coyotes have been attacking people resembles the way the animals would ordinarily attack prey, officials say.
“What I can tell you, that type of attack — meaning a coyote coming out of nowhere, running fast toward a jogger and biting them on the leg — it is the same thing they would do to prey like a deer,” Sgt. Simon Gravel told the Vancouver Sun. “It’s the same mechanics involved. It makes me believe that it is somehow predatory and not defensive.”
No one knows exactly how many coyotes are in the 1,000-acre park, but estimates vary between six and 12. Two have already been euthanized for aggressive behaviour, but Gravel says he’s not sure what’s making them act this way. It could be that they’re associating humans with a source of food because of people leaving food in the park, or from seeing humans feeding birds. Whatever the reason, these animals appear to have very little fear of humans.
Until officials are able to get the coyote situation under control, Vancouver runners should look for other places to run.
“If you choose to use the trails,” warns Gravel, “be aware you’re likely to encounter a coyote that can approach you.”