For one Vancouver political pundit, the issue of the coyote attacks in Stanley Park is not a question of wildlife preservation but of public policy and safety.
Nearly 40 coyote attacks on humans have been reported in the park this year, which includes attacks on a two-year-old girl and, most recently, a 69-year-old man. Efforts have been made to quell the attacks with Conservation Officers capturing and euthanizing some of the wild dogs last month but columnist and political commentator Bill Tieleman is calling for more decisive action.
Lately, Tieleman has been riding the radio waves debating his position on the Stanley Park coyotes with animal rights activists. A firm believer that aggressive coyotes can not coexist with park goers, Tieleman has created a Change.org petition in the hopes of gathering support for the total removal of coyotes from the park.
The petition, titled “Kick Coyotes out of Vancouver before a child is killed!” was started on August 20.
Tieleman says he “got to a breaking point" after reading about new attacks seemingly every week. As for the actions already taken by the City of Vancouver and Conservation Officers, Tieleman says the advice from the COs not to use the park is “ridiculous” and the previous euthanizations are not enough.
“It's a matter of time, [if] this keeps up before someone gets seriously injured or even killed,” Tieleman said in a recent interview with Vancouver Is Awesome. "Just to stay out of the park for what? Until what? What's going to happen?"
"They've euthanized, trapped and or killed six coyotes, and there's still attacks going on so pretty clearly, the coyotes in the park are habituated to human beings, and they see them as food," Tieleman continued.
'Got to be dealt with now'
While Tieleman believes the coyotes can’t be "unhabituated" to the environment they have become so used to, he agrees more locked garbage cans and education about coyotes should be implemented. As for actions to take in the present, Tieleman believes a culling is in order.
"This is a level of attacks that clearly indicates the coyotes are habituated to humans and they see them as a food source. And that's got to be dealt with now," he said, adding that coyotes are not native to British Columbia let alone Vancouver.
"The idea that we're interfering with them, they came here, we didn't go to their territory and encroach upon it,” Tieleman said. “They came to our territory. And they're an invasive species at this stage."
Alternative solutions like relocation are also off the table for Tieleman who argued the coyotes have become so habituated to humans that no matter where they go they're going to be a problem.
'We're just tempting the fates'
The goal of Tieleman’s petition may extend farther than just Stanley Park; the animals are present in other parts of Vancouver, too, like Kitsilano Beach.
"By refusing to act in any meaningful, significant way. We're just tempting the fates for a serious incident or fatality of a child or even an adult," he said.
When asked how the removal of all the park’s coyotes would prevent more moving in at a later date, Tieleman pointed to animal rights activists’ proclamation of the animal’s intelligence as evidence.
“You would think a very intelligent animal seeing that an area where they were was completely depopulated, all the coyotes gone, would be a warning to not go there," he said.
Tieleman hopes with the petition he can motivate the Vancouver Parks Board, city council and the Conservation Officer Service to take more direct action.