Burnaby Now, February 10, 2016 – Burnaby family warns of coyotes in Central Park


Mable, a rescue dog from Mexico, was killed after being chased by coyotes through Burnaby’s Central Park Sunday. The dog’s owner Mary Gifford wants to get the message out to pet owners to be careful in the park.   Photograph By Submitted


A Sunday walk through Burnaby’s Central Park for Mary Gifford, her young son and the family dog Mable started innocently enough.

The family was taking Mable for a quick walk to the park around noon. As the trio made their way between the baseball diamonds and a forested area in the city park, the brief outing went terribly wrong.

Gifford said out of nowhere a coyote appeared. 

“There was no warning, it was so quiet, and then all of a sudden it was there,” she told the NOW.

The coyote went straight for Mable, who got spooked and dashed away, pulling the leash right out of Gifford’s hands.

Within moments, three coyotes were giving chase to the 20-pound dog through the park.

Mable was chased to Kingsway where she was hit by a car trying to cross the busy street in an attempt to get back home.

Mable, a rescue dog from Mexico, was killed, while the entire family witnessed the scene.

“It was pretty traumatic,” Gifford said. “It was devastating really, especially for my son. This was our first family dog. She was a beautiful little dog; she was full of life and pep.”

While still grieving the loss of the family pet, Gifford wants to get the message out to pet owners about the coyotes in the park.

Gifford said she heard about the warnings of the wild animals but never took them seriously until it was too late.

“More than anything I want owners to know just how serious this is,” she said, suggesting the coyotes in this case were clearly hungry and looking for food.

Gifford said she reported the incident to the city, which is exactly what she was supposed to do, according Burnaby officials.

Melinda Wong, an environmental technician in Burnaby’s parks and rec department, said the city has teamed up with the Stanley Park Ecology Society for a program called Co-existing with Coyotes.

She said coyotes are everywhere and that people need to get used to co-exist around them. 

“What we need to do is learn how to live with them,” Wong said, adding the coyotes aren’t going anywhere.

When hearing about the Giffords’ incident with Mable, Wong said she feels terrible for the family, adding it’s the first time she’s heard of an attack like this at the park.

Though Wong noted coyotes are generally afraid of humans, they can become more comfortable when they’re not treated like wildlife.    

The city also wants people to report any violent incidents involving coyotes to the society so they can be tracked and, if necessary, action taken involving the conservation service if the problem persists.

The society has a few tips to help reduce conflicts between people, pets and coyotes:

  • If you see a coyote scare it, it is the most effective way to keep people, pets and coyotes safe.
  • Never feed a coyote – human food is not healthy for coyotes, but like any dog, they will eat what you give to them. Deliberate feeding is the sole cause of aggressive behaviour, which is why it is illegal under the provincial wildlife act to attract coyotes, if you see someone feeding a coyote please report it.
  • Tell your neighbours about co-existing. Put up posters in your neighbourhood, and report your coyote sightings.

To report a coyote sighting go to stanleyparkecology.ca or call 604-681-9453.

For Gifford and her family, the tips come too late for Mable.

She said the family will eventually get a new dog, but next time she’ll stick to dog parks where she feels coyotes will be less likely to frequent.

“We’ll get another pet for sure, but I would never let a small dog off a leash in that area [again],” Gifford said.

– See more at: http://www.burnabynow.com/news/burnaby-family-warns-of-coyotes-in-central-park-1.2170125#sthash.OXeDVNHM.dpuf

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