Children among victims of 3 coyote attacks on the same day as earlier closure of Vancouver's Stanley Park begins

Conservation officials say three coyote attacks were reported in Vancouver's Stanley Park in a period of a few hours, two of which were on children.

Inspector Drew Milne said one coyote has been killed as a result of the attacks, after showing signs of food habituation.

“These coyotes aren’t scared of anybody; they are demonstrating a behaviour that is extraordinary and is not usual for coyotes,” he said.

Although many encounters have likely gone unreported, so far 45 people, including five children, have been attacked by coyotes in Stanley Park.

The B.C. Ministry of Forests confirmed in a statement Wednesday that it is stepping in as soon as possible and “undertaking direct coyote management controls that include lethal removal to ensure human safety."  

The latest in a series of attacks happened on the same day as officials announced the park would be closed to the general public from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Earlier this summer, the Vancouver Park Board decided to close the park due to risk of wildfire starting at 10 p.m. each night, with limited access granted for people including patrons and workers at businesses inside its 405 hectares. The park was then to reopen at 6 a.m.

The updated hours of its closure were announced Tuesday, after three attacks were noted in 72 hours.

Despite the expanded hours, three more people were attacked in an even shorter period of time, the BCCOS said.

SPECIAL MEETING TO BE HELD

In light of the latest attacks, two commissioners have served 48 hours' notice to the Vancouver Park Board, in order to force a special meeting to deal with what's becoming a coyote crisis in the park.

"I certainly feel like the board has perhaps not been strong enough on this, and has let the public down, certainly in terms of public safety," said Comm. John Coupar, who initiated with request along with Comm. Tricia Barker.

The chair must now call a meeting of the board, and that could come as early as Friday.

Coupar wants the board to instruct conservation officers to rid Stanley Park of coyotes.

“Whether they relocate them, or whether they may have to euthanize them, that’s their decision,” said Coupar.

4-YEAR-OLD BOY ATTACKED

Details were not provided on any of the attacks by the service, but the mother of one of the children spoke to CTV News Wednesday morning.

Kiya Naka said she and her four-year-old son, Jack, had gone to the Vancouver Aquarium, located inside the park, then decided to go to the park's perimeter to take in the ocean before driving home.

She said it was around 4 p.m. when they headed from the parking lot toward trail, and it was then that they heard a man shouting at them.

"We looked and a coyote had been coming right up to my son and had him by the bum," Naka recalled the next morning.

"I think I screamed, I don't even know what I did… I screamed and grabbed him and the guy came running at us too, and it (the coyote) ran away."

Fortunately, the coyote's grasp wasn't too tight, though its teeth left visible puncture marks on Jack's body.

The boy was treated in hospital for minor cuts and bruises.

Naka is from Calgary, and said she was unaware of the recent attacks, noting a lack of warnings posted in the park. She said she felt a bit guilty she hadn't done any research, but she knows it's a popular destination and didn't expect it to be unsafe.

Initially she thought the animal was a dog or a fox, but her cousin realized it was a small coyote.

Naka said she wanted to share her story because she's worried it may happen to someone else.

"That could have been a bigger (coyote). It could have been a younger child," she said.

And she added the park's new hours didn't prevent the attack, since it happened hours before the park closed for the night.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's St. John Alexander, Regan Hasegawa and Alyse Kotyk