Investigation underway into interference with coyote traps in Stanley Park

The Ministry of Forests says there is an investigation into interference with use of leg-hold traps to capture coyotes in Stanley Park

Article content

An investigation has begun into reports of interference with the leg-hold traps being used in the recent coyote cull in Stanley Park.


Article content

The cull resulted in four coyotes being euthanized, many fewer than an earlier estimate that as many as 35 could be trapped and killed.

The head of an organization that protects fur-bearing animals said the provincial government’s “gross overestimate” about the number of coyotes in Stanley Park undermines public trust.

“The (Conservation Officer Service) is investigating alleged trapping interference in the park,” the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said by email.

“As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

The Conservation Officer Service confirmed Monday that an investigation was continuing, but released no further details.


Article content

Last week, the service announced that two people had been arrested and a vehicle seized in connection with feeding coyotes in the park.

The arrests came on the day that Stanley Park was re-opened to the public after a two-week cull saw all trails closed and the entire park closed from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. daily.

The Ministry of Forests doesn’t make anyone available to speak on the record about coyotes. It only responds to questions submitted by email.

The ministry was asked about why only four coyotes were killed in the cull.

“The frequency of attacks and the aggression displayed in the incidents over the past year led to a higher estimate of coyote population density within the park,” the ministry said. “However, our evidence from camera monitoring supports that it was in fact a small group of very aggressive coyotes.”


Article content

The ministry said some coyotes were seen around the traps, but didn’t approach them.

“It is difficult to say if this was the result of a specific aversion to the trap or general caution,” the ministry statement said.

Conservation Officer Service Insp. Drew Milne speaks at a press conference inside Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC, September 1, 2021.
Conservation Officer Service Insp. Drew Milne speaks at a press conference inside Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC, September 1, 2021. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

Coyotes have been described by one coyote expert as wily, intelligent, and extremely difficult to trap.

The four coyotes were caught with “soft catch” leg-hold traps. Those are described as having “a spring-loaded D-clamp with a soft close mechanism that snaps shut when pressure is applied by the animal.”

The Ministry of Forests said the traps minimize the risk of pain to the animal. It said the trap can “close on a human hand with minimal discomfort, and no injury.”

Some animals other than coyotes were caught in the traps.


Article content

“All were quickly freed and released without injury,” the ministry said.

There have been 45 attacks by coyotes on humans in Stanley Park since last December. In total, 11 coyotes have been euthanized, including seven before the organized cull.

Lesley Fox, executive director of The Fur-Bearers, said there was a “gross overestimate” of the size of the coyote population in Stanley Park.

“Why that matters is that it undermines public trust because it suggests incompetence,” she said. “So really the message is: ‘We don’t know how many coyotes are in Stanley Park.’”

The Vancouver Park Board voted on Monday to introduce a $500 fine for anyone caught feeding any wild animals in Stanley Park and other city parks. The bylaw amendment would allow park rangers and the police to issue fines of $500 for feeding animals ranging from coyotes and squirrels to crows and geese.



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

This website uses cookies and asks your personal data to enhance your browsing experience.