Trails closed in Vancouver's Stanley Park due to denning coyotes

Trails in a popular Vancouver park are closed as officials warn of denning coyotes in the area.

The Vancouver Park Board announced Wednesday Reservoir Trail and parts of Eagle and Hanson trails in Stanley Park are closed to give coyotes "space to raise their families without being disturbed."

"Please respect trail closures as marked and keep pets away," a notice from the park board said.

Last year a series of coyote attacks led to closures in the park and, eventually, a cull that was expected to eliminate up to 35 animals. In the end, only four were killed in the cull. Seven others died in previous efforts to address the attacks.

“What happened last year was absolutely abhorrent,” said Lesley Fox, executive director of The Fur-Bearers.

"Here we are just a few months later and coyotes are back in Stanley park. It's very clear we're not going to kill our way out of this situation."

Fox says humans and wildlife need to learn to safely co-exist in the park, and that stricter and more frequent enforcement will be needed.

"It's incumbent upon all levels of government to really prevent this from happening again, and it's really going to come down to operations within the park, which puts a lot of responsibility on the park board."

Late last year, a bylaw was passed allowing for people caught feeding wildlife in city parks to be fined $500.

The park board has already been warning residents of the upcoming denning season, saying it could lead to more defensive behaviour from the animals. As well, while there is just a handful of coyotes still living in Stanley Park, officials said that population will grow in the weeks and months ahead. 

"With denning season in full swing, that number is expected to rise into the teens. As Stanley Park is an optimum habitat for coyotes, biologists have advised more animals will move in over the coming months," a park board spokesperson said in an emailed statement last month

Those who encounter a coyote that appears to be behaviour normally can report the sighting online or at 604-257-6908, ext. 104, so the population can be tracked and monitored by the Stanley Park Ecology Society.

In the event of serious incident, like physical contact, aggressive behaviour or humans feeding coyotes, it should be reported to the Provincial Report All Poachers and Polluters line at 1-877-952-7277.

Along with respecting trail closures, the park board says food should never be left on the ground or offered to wildlife, including coyotes, as food attractants are the main cause of habituation to humans. Anyone caught feeding any animal, from birds and squirrels to coyotes, can be fined $500.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Lisa Steacy and Kendra Mangione