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Did the coyote cull stop aggressive behaviour in Vancouver's Stanley Park? Here's an update

It appears the cull targeting coyotes in a popular Vancouver park didn't put an end to aggressive behaviour entirely.

The provincial Ministry of Forests told CTV News there have been three reports involving the Stanley Park coyotes since the end of a two-week-long trapping program.

Since Sept. 21 there have been three reports to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service about the animals' behaviour, all three involving cyclists.

Two were reported on Oct. 1.

The first was at 12:30 p.m., when people in Stanley Park reported seeing a coyote chasing a person on a bike. About 90 minutes later, another caller to B.C. COS's hotline said a coyote was chasing a cyclist near a trail in the park.

Then things were quiet for a while, but on Dec. 15, COS was contacted about another cyclist being chased by a coyote.

This is abnormal behaviour, the ministry said.

"Aggressive behaviour towards people is usually the result of the animal becoming comfortable due to being fed, either directly or indirectly, by people," a spokesperson wrote in an email.

The ministry is still working with the Vancouver Park Board on long-term monitoring and response strategies.

Eva Cook, with the park board, said there have been no known incidents of coyotes biting people since the cull, but there are still reports of sightings.

These should be reported through 311, the VanConnect app or to the Stanley Park Ecology Society for monitoring purposes, Cook said.

There have not been any injuries reported since several coyotes were caught and killed during the ministry's trapping program, which saw the installation of more than 30 cameras in the park meant to monitor coyotes.

Seven coyotes were killed by conservation officers prior to the two-week program.

The cull was controversial, and according to the ministry, not its first choice. A high number of attacks in the park popular with tourists and locals prompted an estimate from the ministry that as many as 35 coyotes may need to be killed.

But officials said once the cameras were installed, they realized there were fewer coyotes than they'd thought, and a brief closure of the park overnight ended with just four more being killed.

The attacks and the deaths led to calls for new rules meant to target the humans who caused the situation to become what it was.

Days after the cull ended, the Vancouver Park Board voted in favour of banning the feeding of wildlife in parks.

Previously such rules were nearly non-existent, but a bylaw passed at the end of September meant that a section was added that means those caught feeding wild animals in the city's parks can be fined $500.

In addition to feeding coyotes, these tickets can also be handed out to people caught feeding raccoons, rodents and birds.

In the fall, it was unclear how enforcement would actually work as local park rangers initially didn't have the authority to ask for identification in order to issue fines.

In October, rangers were given that authority through an amendment to the city's Parks Control and Ticket Offences bylaw.

Since that time, however, no tickets have been issued for violations of the new bylaw.

"We're encouraged that there have been no reported attacks in the last few months," Cook told CTV News in an email.

"However, as Stanley Park is an optimum habitat for coyotes and biologists have advised that more animals will move into the park, we still need the public's assistance to ensure peaceful co-existence with wildlife."

She said following the rules about feeding wildlife is crucial.

"Feeding coyotes, even indirectly (by leaving food on the ground, not disposing of garbage properly, or feeding their prey like birds, squirrels and rodents) will encourage them to return to a specific area and put people at higher risk of encounters."

Encounters may not necessarily have negative consequences – co-existence is achievable, Cook said – but humans need to co-operate to ensure "this situation never arises again."

Provincially, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service fined at least two people earlier in September for feeding coyotes.

The feeding of dangerous wildlife is a violation of B.C.'s Wildlife Act.

Anyone who sees someone feeding coyotes or notes aggressive behaviour is asked to contact the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-7277. Top Stories

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