A West Vancouver mom is warning neighbours in the Altamont area to be cautious after her 13-year-old son was chased by a pack of five coyotes near his home.
Coralynn Gehl said her teen left the house around 7:45 a.m. as usual to head to the bus stop Monday morning. But he hadn’t gone far when he noticed four coyotes at the bottom of the street, standing in the intersection. A fifth coyote then came out of the bush. “And he said that’s when they noticed him and started trotting up the hill towards him,” said Gehl.
Spooked by the experience, Gehl said the teen did exactly what he shouldn’t have done – turned and ran. By the time he made it home, one of the coyotes was already in the driveway.
Gehl said the experience left her concerned enough to call both the conservation office and the West Vancouver police.
Coyote sightings are relatively common in the neighbourhood, she said, but added, “It’s not normal to see that many all at once,” or to be chased by them.
Gehl said her main concern was that young children who attend West Bay Elementary would be walking to school at that time. “I was really worried [the coyotes] would just be in the bushes, waiting,” she said.
Gehl said she was also thinking of the rash of 45 coyote attacks in Stanley Park that resulted in more than 10 of the coyotes being destroyed last month.
A West Vancouver police officer did conduct extensive patrols in the area, said Const. Kevin Goodmurphy, spokesman for the department, but didn’t see any coyotes.
Gehl said she talked with a conservation officer later in the day, who told her the coyotes’ behaviour was unusual and “not something they see at all on the North Shore.”
The Ministry of Environment issued a statement saying conservation officers were aware of the incident, but added there had been no actual contact between the coyotes and the teen and no similar reports of conflict in the area.
Wild coyotes are naturally curious, according to the ministry, but will usually run away if challenged. Coyotes start posing a risk to people when they lose their wariness – usually a result of feeding by humans.
Anyone who encounters a coyote that doesn’t move away shouldn’t run but should yell, throw rocks, and try to look as big as possible, according to the ministry. Children should be supervised or walk in groups in forested areas.
Gehl said she intends to keep an eye out, especially after one of her neighbours reported seeing the coyotes frequently on dog walks.
In response to the incident, park rangers from the District of West Vancouver have also installed signs at both ends of Rosebery Avenue and near West Bay Elementary.