Statistics showing a rise in the number of Langley coyote reports to a provincial animal incident hotline came as little surprise to the many residents who responded to an online query by the Langley Advance Times, asking about encounters with the wily carnivores.
Several readers reported contact with coyotes, sometimes too close for comfort.
Joanne Bonetti, who is near 236th street, south of 47th Avenue, reported her dog got into a fight with a coyote early Saturday morning, Jan. 30.
“[My dog] came back 20 minutes later unscathed as far as I can tell. But they are here every night,” Bonetti said.
“You can hear them calling each other,” Bonetti added. “And celebrating when they have a kill. They got a chicken of ours about a week ago, unfortunately.”
Jessica Vieira “saw one running down our street in Brookswood in the afternoon.”
Amanda Belegris “caught them [three times] this week stealing chickens from the coop. Two of them today, [and they] weren’t scared off by my dog.”
Sandy Marr, who is located East of 216th Street on 88th Avenue, said coyotes are “going through our yard all the time [which is] very unnerving since we have two smaller dogs.
Rick Farrow, who lives on Springbrook Rd., said “at night the packs howl like a bunch of babies.”
Christine Higgins said there were “a lot” of coyotes behind James Hill elementary school at 22144 Old Yale Rd.
Aldergrove resident Debbie Ion said she hasn’t seen them “but hear them at night!”
Natasha Fennema reported more coyote sightings than usual in the ravine behind Brydon Crescent, “even in the middle of the day.”
Bev Atchison, who lives in the area of 264th Street and Hwy. 1, said there is a family of coyotes that live in the blueberry fields next to them.
“They do their choir practice, every time there is sirens on the freeway, night or day,” Atchison related.
Vanessa Carrasco, who lives near 200th Street and 66th Avenue, said “I don’t see them too much, only hear them.”
“Feels like I’m Will Smith in I Am Legend, laying in the bathtub,” Carrasco commented.
Colleen O’Brien said people with small animals need to understand that coyotes are predators and go where they can find food.
“That kitty you keep letting outdoors is a tasty meal [to a coyote],” O’Brien said.
“All those people who keep chickens, another snack . Your rooster, if you have one, is advertising where you are located.”
Deanna Miller said the rabbit population and coyote population are connected.
“Last year was a high population year for rabbits, this year will be a high coyote population,” Miller related, describing it as a “predator/prey cycle.”
Conservation officer Marc Plamondon said calls to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line, used for wildlife-human interactions where public safety may be at risk, usually runs around 30 calls during the fiscal year from April to March, but this fiscal year, there have been 50 calls during the first nine months.
Numbers are also up province-wide.
Plamondon said in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, the total coyote calls for the whole province was 1,150, which is already more than reported during the entire 12 months of the previous year, when there were 1,035.
Calls to the RAPP line can be for “livestock/pet predation, sick/injured coyotes, or just sightings,” Plamondon explained.
The Lower Mainland is home to an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 urban coyotes, which moved into the area in the 1980s, according to the BC SPCA.
The animal protection agency web page devoted to coyotes describes them as “generalists that eat small mammals like rats, mice, shrews, voles, squirrels and rabbits. However, coyotes will also eat garbage, compost, fallen fruit, seeds from bird feeders and pet food. They will also prey on free-roaming cats, small dogs and chickens if given the chance.”
If you see a coyote, the SPCA advises scaring it away by yelling, stamping your feet and waving your arms.
“Make lots of noise and try to look big. This may feel silly, but will help the coyote avoid future problems. Teach children how to scare away a coyote if they see one, but never throw anything at the animals.”
Coyotes are generally not dangerous to people, the SPCA said, but some lose their fear when they are fed and may attack small pets or unattended small children.
This may have been a factor in a recent series of incident involving coyotes in Vancouver’s Stanley Park over December and January.
After about 13 people were chased around Brockton Oval and Hollow Tree near Prospect Point in Stanley Park, and some were bitten badly enough to require medical attention, two coyotes had to be euthanized.
Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, launched a coyote education campaign, calling wildlife feeding “a significant issue in our park.”
To report a possible hazard involving wildlife-human interaction, phone 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the TELUS mobility network.