The coyote cull in Stanley Park is over and humans are once again allowed throughout the park.
The Vancouver parks board has lifted all closures that were put in place following attacks by the wild animals.
"Effective immediately, all trails are open to the public and the temporary overnight park closure has been lifted," they state in a press release issued early Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 21). "Fencing and trail closure signage will be removed shortly."
Along with the end to the closures, the Ministry of Forests coyote trapping program, targeting human food-conditioned coyotes is ending. They caught and killed four coyotes, all within the first few days of the two-week program. That's in addition to the seven killed by the B.C. Conservation Officers' Service (BCCOS) in response to attacks over the last year in the park.
It is still unknown how many coyotes are in the park, but the province has noted it's likely fewer than initially thought; at the beginning of the trapping program they announced they would limit the cull to 35 coyotes. A small number are believed to still be in the park, but have not been trapped. The parks board notes it will be repopulated over time.
Using cameras to observe behaviour, the province notes it was likely a small group of aggressive coyotes causing the problem.
"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. However, our evidence from camera monitoring supports that it was in fact a small group of very aggressive coyotes," states the ministry in an email to Vancouver is Awesome. "Based on observations and review of camera footage, Ministry staff believe that only a few animals remain and that the immediate threat to humans has been addressed."
Visitors and park users should continue to exercise caution if they encounter a coyote, especially at dawn or dusk, to not feed wildlife, and to either take food waste home or properly dispose of it in bins provided," states the parks board in the release, but notes the immediate risk is gone.
The province will continue to monitor the situation but doesn't have any activities planned beyond that.
"In an effort to restore coexistence with coyotes and other wildlife, Park Board staff will now focus on a dedicated awareness campaign to further educate the public on how to respect and safely share the city’s greenspaces with the wild animals that live in Vancouver’s parks," states the parks board.
They'll also be monitoring the situation (both coyote and human behaviour) and the use of wildlife-proof garbage bins.
In addition, Park Board staff are in the process of reviewing current by-laws to clarify and update municipal park restrictions regarding feeding wildlife and to seek enforcement abilities within the jurisdiction," states the park board. "Under current provincial regulations, feeding dangerous wildlife (including coyotes) is already prohibited."
However, enforcement of that prohibition has been difficult. The parks board asks that anyone feeding coyotes be reported to the BCCOS RAPP line (1-877-952-7277).
Additionally, they advise anyone who is approached by a coyote to look as big as possible and stand their ground. Speak loudly, but don't scream. If the coyote is aggressive, call the RAPP line.