Updated: December 22, 2017
The Stanley Park Ecology Society is looking for yards where they can install ‘coyote cams’ to study how coyotes behave in an urban setting.. Brian Gavriloff
The Stanley Park Ecology Society is looking for yards where they can install ‘coyote cams’ to study how coyotes behave in an urban setting.
People who have had coyote sightings in Vancouver are being asked to contact the society so it can install cameras to monitor the wild animals’ nocturnal activities.
Greg Hart, who runs the Co-Existing with Coyotes program, said the society’s goal is promote better co-existence between coyotes and humans.
“If there are people who see coyotes regularly, we can put up cameras and let them know exactly how often coyotes do come by,” he said. “The more people know about coyotes, the better prepared they can be.”
This past summer, the SPES put up coyote cams in Stanley Park and Jericho Beach. Now, the program is being expanded into more areas in the city.
“It was a mini-experiment,” he said about the first coyote cameras. “We think they can be an appropriate tool to study coyotes.”
“Right now we have a couple of locations, but we’re looking for more,” said Hart, the SPES’s urban-wildlife programs coordinator.
One of the goals of the study is to determine the effectiveness of coyote-deterrent measures. Do, for example, motion-sensitive blinking lights scare coyotes?
Hart said every neighbourhood in Vancouver is within the territory of coyotes. That’s not to scare anyone, he said, but simply to make people aware of their presence among us. In fact, coyotes have changed their habits to become active mostly at night to avoid humans.
“The fact that we don’t see them everyday is a testament to how well they do co-exist with us,” he said.
Hart said coyotes have been in Metro Vancouver since the 1930s. They didn’t start moving into the city limits of Vancouver until the 1980s. In the past 20 years they have colonized most areas of the region and spread into most cities in North America. Cities, it turns out, are great for generating food sources for coyotes, such as rats, mice and squirrels.
As Europeans and other settlers spread across the continent, they killed and eliminated the habitat for wolves, which were the predator that kept coyotes in check.
“The typical coyote is timid and shy,” Hart said. “As long as they’re out running in the city at night eating rats, they’re doing a really good ecosystem service for us.”
Known by their scientific name canis latrans, coyotes have fluffy tails that point straight down. Their ears are bigger than a dog’s and point straight up. Their eyes are yellowy-gold.
Many coyotes have mange, which can cause the loss of its brown, black and grey fur. Mange, caused by parasitic mites, is contagious to pets.
A coyote can jump over a two-metre fence and easily run at 30 km/h. Coyotes like to make sounds. They’re known as one of the most vocal wild animals in North America.