Coyote Sightings and Attacks in Vancouver

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 — 8:31am PDT
Comments 36

Living so close to such a wonderland of natural beauty, towering trees, babbling brooks and amazing cliff-side outlooks we often forget that Stanley Park is in fact filled with wildlife and is by no means completely urban.

Even though ducks, swans, raccoons, squirrels and skunks are the animals spotted most often, recently coyote sightings and attacks have become more frequent and reports of attacks on pets are causing concern.

Photo credit: Steve Cherrier on Flickr

There are between 2,000 and 3,000 coyotes believed to be living in the Lower Mainland. I know my niece has “coyote drills” at her school in case one is spotted coming out of the woods during recess but they are also no strangers to Stanley Park.

In January there were several reports of attacks on small dogs and even a swan (which wouldn’t have been able to fly away in defense, as I discovered a while back). I also received an email to my contact form about these cases and a cause for concern.

The Stanley Park Ecology Society is one of my favourite Stanley Park resources, and where I often find information about nature walks, hikes, tree planting and bird watching updates. The SPES has been tracking coyote sightings since January 2009 and there are more than a dozen, including some that read in bold “pet attack” as recent as February 19th.

View Larger Map

I built this map based on 2009 data so far, you can also view the SPES archives for more information or patterns.

It’s been said that, “coyote attacks are not precipitated by hunger but for their lack of fear for humans.” [source] You can see evidence of such when you’re anywhere in Stanley Park — birds come closer as do squirrels and other animals who are used to being fed by passers-by.
A few years ago there was a rabies outbreak within skunks and raccoons, and even though we spot those baby raccoons acting all cute and roley-poley playing with each other I know that their parents are some place nearby – and they pretty much make me want to back away slowly, not stop and take a photo.

The SPES and the City have been hopeful in the past that we can “coexist with coyotes through communication.” On the SPES website you can find several resources including the Coexisting with Coyotes brochure and poster, a kit for parent advisory committees, learn about school presentations, guided walks through the “Coyote Zones” in your area, and report a coyote sighting in your city. You can also learn to identify coyotes based on tracks and other signs.

Photo credit: gak on Flickr

If you have a small pet, keep them under your full control when you venture into coyote country (namely the spots on the map, which are mostly near parks) and never approach, feed, or engage a coyote. Also, you can call (604) 681-WILD or email coyotes [at] should you have any questions, comments or concerns about coyote activity.

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  1. Zack says:

    Wow, that is really scary. I hope that no one gets hurts. Thanks for an interesting post too.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I’ve seen coyotes at the Burnaby Mountain Golf course on more than one occasion. It just adds to the experience.

  3. Miss604 says:

    Hehe yeah in a blog post 4 years ago I wrote about finding a coyote next to my car in the driveway one morning before work.

  4. Twitchy67 says:

    It’s only a concern if the coyote has an empty box of Acme Rocket Skates and Acme Bomb Parts nearby…other than that they’ll usually just fall off a cliff or something.

  5. Dave says:

    Eeek… Don’t think I want to ever meet a Coyote.

  6. Lisa says:

    Cool map!
    It surprises me there are so few sightings out at Pacific Spirit Park — but maybe it’s a place people are used to seeing them and wouldn’t bother reporting?

    I remember coming to Vancouver once as a kid, and a tourist, and being enamored with the wildlife (read: racoons) in Stanley Park. Now I walk away slowly too ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. pottersberry says:

    Interesting map, Thankfully, there is nothing in the Burnaby area (although I am sure that some are around). We used to have a problem with them killing our hens out in “the Wack” but good fencing solved it.

  8. Aren’t coyotes mostly nocturnal? I can’t recall seeing one during the day. I think that regardless of the number of coyotes in the lower mainland the chances of being attacked are extremely remote. They prefer easy to catch small prey. I don’t think children are on the menu, but rover, that’s another story.

  9. Lyndsey says:

    Growing up on Prince Edward Island, it is quite common to come into contact with coyotes at one time or another. I have heard them in the field just behind our treeline and also have watched them in my back yard from inside the house.

    Now, it is important to note that coyotes are not exactly native to the island, but have populated to rampant numbers, after having trekked across the frozen Atlantic in the Winter from New Brunswick. Once they make themselves at home, they quickly find themselves at the apex of the food chain, as there are no other natural predators on the island in which to control their numbers. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for them to grow to the size of wolves…and I mean, they LOOK like wolves!!

    Being that most of the island is covered by either heavy woods or farmland, it gives coyotes a luxurious place to live, offering protection and an abundance of prey, ie. nothing is off limits. They attack cattle, game and I know SEVERAL neighbours and friends that have lost their beloved family pets to a pack of coyotes.

    Our neighbour put her Pug out on her leash at around 4pm in May for a pee- broad day light- and when she came back there was nothing more than her collar, and tufts of bloody hair left behind. My beloved Bischon of 17 years went missing one evening after we let him out for a pee (I was working next door to our house that night and coincidentally, heard Coyotes just outside;( and last summer my little fat cat mysteriously went missing;(

    Such events have spurned outrage amongst farmers, who go on an annual coyote hunt in an effort to control the population and decrease the amount of attacks and kills on their livestock. I remember a couple of years ago when a farmer shot one and measured him from his snout to the tip of his tail and he measured between 7- 8 ft easily. Though I have never heard of any coyotes bold enough to attack a human on PEI, I would be hard pressed to venture into the woods by myself (especially at dusk), given their size and packing behaviour.

    Okay, that is all- coyote rant over;0)

  10. Amber says:

    This is why I keep my cat indoors. I’ve seen the coyotes wandering in broad daylight, I’m sure she would be a real tasty snack for them.

  11. LOL at Twitchy67’post………

  12. Rob J says:

    The sales of the 2009 ACME mail order catalog will have skyrocketed then, plus the sales of all of that dynamite, giant springs, green ‘bat-man’ outfits, and (my favourite)rocket-powered roller-skates.

  13. Tyler Ingram says:

    I used to live in Pitt Meadows and I’d see Coyotes all the time. They never came close to the houses. One pack of them near my office in Pitt Meadows I see on occasion. About 6 of them now. With the construction of the Golden ears Bridge (addition of roadway in the area) these Coyotes won’t have many places to go now.

    I remember coming home from work when I lived in Burnaby to a Coyote in the road near Canada Way (next to the IBM building). he just wandered off.

    I’m glad every time I see the Coyotes out near work. I’m sad that we’re destroying their habitat and forcing them into our habitat.

    Then it angers me when i see stupid people feeding wildlife (such as the raccoons) food, let alone human food. If you let your little kickme dog off the leash and it goes after a Coyote then sham on you for being stupid and not respecting the wildlife you’re encroaching upon!

    I’ve had 2 cats get eaten by local Coyotes. We assume they were attacked because the each night one of the cats didnt come home.. the Coyotes were howling a lot.

  14. Glenn says:

    Thanks for this post. One of the things I really love about Vancouver is the effort put into co-existing with the wildlife that inhabits our city. I love waking up in the morning and seeing raccoon tracks in the front yard. There’s no reason we can’t all get along.

    I have three cats and they all stay indoors. This keeps them safe, but it also reduces the chances that they’ll kill too many birds (our domesticated non-native cats are a big reason for the decline in songbird populations). So, it’s best for everyone that they stay indoors.

    And don’t feed the raccoons!

  15. Beth says:

    I’m with Lisa – I’m surprise there’s only one listed out at UBC. Seeing coyotes there is a fairly regular occurrence… but then I never knew that it’s something that one would report, so I’ve never reported it!

  16. Ryan says:

    I live in the West End and have had three separate coyote sightings in the last couple weeks. Two of the sightings were on Stanley Park paths near the Pitch & Putt, one midday, the other at dusk. My third sighting was walking home just after midnight at the intersection of Cardero & Nelson. Each time it was alone, and I’d be willing to bet it was the same one. Based on my encounters, I’d only be concerned if you have small dogs or cats in the area.

  17. Great post and thanks for the photo link and credit! I took that while scouting the cemetery near John Oliver school. I had a shoot planned later that day in the cemetery and I just saw this guy running around and snapped a few frames from the comfort of my SUV! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. […] They’ve hosted fun events like the winter humbug hike, were a great resource when I did my coyote sighting map, run programs like Ivy Busters, and always respond to my inquisitive […]

  19. Anon says:

    I just watched a kitty get attacked then dragged off screaming in a coyotes mouth in the alley, near Pender and Boundary in Burnaby.


  20. Batu says:

    I saw 2 coyotes last night around 1:00 am at springer and frances, in north burnaby.

  21. Renee says:

    I ran into a coyote today while running along the Cora Brown Pedestrian Trail by the Vancouver Airport. As I approached the coyote stood his ground. The trail runs between a fence and creek so as there was no where else to go, I turned around and went back to the nearest road that I passed 100m back.

  22. I saw a coyote last night says:

    I saw a coyote last night off my patio on 5th Ave. west of Commercial Drive. It ran down the street towards Commercial and then doubled back after a cat that was strolling along. I don’t think it got the cat but it was rather odd to see a coyote on my street!

  23. linda lachappelle says:

    I went for a walk with my daughter at noon today. We headed into Pacific Spirit Park on the St. Georges trail. About 10 minutes into our walk about 20 feet in front of us crossed what I think was a wolf. He stopped about 10 feet into the forest and stared us down. We backed away then ran like hell till we reached the entrance. I have lived in areas populated with coyotes and have seen many over the years, this did not look like a coyote. I have only lived in Vancouver for a year, do the coyotes here tend to look like wolves? I would swear on my life this was a wolf. Has anyone else seen the likes in this park?

  24. Lee says:

    You may have heard that a horse was killed by coyotes in Maple Ridge last night (Nov.2/09), and I’m sure you heard that a 19 year old pop star was attacked and killed by 2 coyotes in Nova Scotia last week. You may have heard that a 2 year old was attacked in the GVRD in the last year.

    This morning we woke up to find the remains of 2 of our sheep in the field thanks to coyotes. It used to be that they would only snatch a chicken from the yard if they were loose during the day. Usually only one per week. Then this spring they moved up to baby goats. We lost 4. Twice they tried to snatch a baby goat within 20 feet of my hubby in broad daylight when he took them for their daily walk around the property. Now its young adult sheep and horses!

    They are getting bolder, and our municipalities don’t care! We were told ‘here is the number of someone you can pay to trap them’. Farmers make very little for their hard work. Why should we pay for this? We all pay taxes so that our governing bodies can keep our children and pets safe, among other things.

    We are near 80th ave. and 192 St. in Langley. This is a suburban area. The newspaper ran a story in the spring and said Langley wanted to know about suspected wild animal attacks so they could come out and take a look and figure out what the problem was. They came, they looked, they said ‘you need better fences’. We have wire mesh fences with fence posts 8 feet apart. Coyotes can squeeze under after they dig for a bit.

    Suzie survived a coyote attack last fall, with a long, painful recovery. We admired her spirit and will to live. We became very attached to her. This fall she was older and stronger than last fall. This morning we found only her skin, legs and decapitated head.

  25. Fred says:

    What about the cougars?! They are dangerous too. The lipstick, big hair, wearing clothes too tight. Don’t even think of approaching one. You’ll wake up in a strange bed the next morning.

  26. Anita Marie says:

    I see coyote frequently when I am out walking my dog at night in Kerrisdale. It’s not unusual to see two running together. But tonight I saw a large pack — and that is a bit concerning.

  27. Wile E. says:

    It’s not unusual for groups of them to gather on the golf course by UBC, even in daylight. At night when they all get together they can make quite a racket. At any given moment of the day or night you can encounter a coyote in that part of town.

  28. Carl says:

    Add the area around 4th and Collingwood all the way through Kitsilano to the area where coyotes travel regularly. Sighting on Collingwood while I was driving home from work last week around 1:00 a.m.

  29. jay says:

    i saw a coyote @ acadia beach by U.B.C.

  30. […] I thought coyotes were pretty common in all North American urban areas? I same home one night and passed three trotting down my very urban street. Later I found the back half of someone's cat on my front lawn. Every so often the media whips themselves into a frenzy over an attempted attack on a pet or child:…vancouver.html […]

  31. Garlic says:

    We have a few coyotes in the Knight & 49th area that we see on a regular basis too. To my surprise, at least one of these animals is not intimidated by people as I have on a couple of occasions come within a 10 foot distance of him while trying to shoo him away. The fact that we have a young child leads to us not particularly appreciating the proximity of the coyotes to our home. However, there is one large brown colored one that luckily is afraid of humans. That animal appears to be taller and with a more full body structure than a coyote. Is there any chance that there are brown wolves within Vancouver? This animal looks too healthy and tall to be a coyote.

  32. Mrs. Santa says:

    I’ve just seen a coyote at 23rd and Crown St at 18:00. It walked into to the forest. I worry about my cat who loves to go to outside.

  33. TrackBack: Primeval fears: “…There’s no shortage of coyotes in Greater Vancouver. In our Burnaby neighbourhood, I’ve seen them regularly for years: they live and hunt in nearby Deer Lake and Burnaby Lake parks, and when I used to come home from band gigs late at night I’d regularly see small packs of them on suburban streets…”

  34. Howard says:

    Just spotted a large coyote hunting\patrolling on quesnel drive south off of west king Edward on the west side of Vancouver, I watched him for about five minutes, the coyote was looking through front yards and then cutting east down the lane, I have spotted a number of coyotes in the area around 33rd and larch but this was the largest one I had seen, normally I would see them hunting in two’s with one visible and one hidden.
    Sighting was Tuesday evening dec 28th at 10:30 pm.
    The coyote was not afraid of humans and was well aware of where I was (in a car).

  35. Carl says:

    Saw a lone coyote on 5th Avenue and Waterloo Street yesterday afternoon at 3:20 p.m. It ran right by a lady on the sidewalk, heading eastbound.

  36. Jimmy says:

    I am an animal lover.
    But the fact that coyotes are flourishing so well in the city, meaning more and more attacks on our pets is reason for concern. However, not nearly as much concern as there should be for our kids. There have been a few reports of coyotes going towards young children, in one case, a few of them circling a young girl. Unfortunately, as always it will take a young child to be seriously hurt or even killed before we realize there is an issue with the number of coyotes among us.

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