Calls to install wildlife-proof garbage bins in Stanley Park

West End resident Kam Li was enjoying the serene trails of Stanley Park when something stopped her in her tracks: a garbage bin filled to its brim.

“I found it was outrageous,” Li said. “I could see juice bottles and food packages. I was also very amazed that the bins were not replaced with animal-proof bins.”

As part of a pilot program, seven wildlife-proof bins were added to the Lost Lagoon and Prospect Point picnic areas two weeks ago.

But Li was baffled by the fact that the majority of trash bins were not changed.

“I don’t know why they are doing a pilot because it’s been more than 10 months that we know about the coyote attacks,” she said. “If they can have money to rent the fences to surround the park, I don’t know why they don’t spend the money more efficiently.”

The fences were erected during a two-week cull in which four coyotes were killed earlier this month.

Since December, 45 people have been attacked and consequently, a total of 11 coyotes have been destroyed.

Li fears those numbers will go higher unless immediate action is taken.

“The (regular) trashcans are easily accessible by coyotes, so I feel instantly unsafe,” she said.

Experts agree that wildlife and human food do not mix.

“It happens quite quickly when animals learn to associate people with food they become very aggressive,” said Colleen Cassidy St. Clair, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta.

“We've shown with some studies in my lab, that the microbiome changes, the gut bacteria of coyotes changes, when they're eating human-sourced food, and some of the changes that occur in these coyotes are similar to changes that have been noted in dogs that cause more aggressive behaviours,” she explained.

Li said that’s exactly why more needs to be done to prevent coyotes from getting into human trash.

The Park Board did not answer questions about how long the pilot will last and what the next steps are.