Joggers warned to stay away from Stanley Park after 15th coyote attack

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VANCOUVER -- The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has issued an unprecedented warning to runners: Stay out of Stanley Park.

The recommendation comes after Vancouver jogger Brandon Kirk was bitten on Wednesday evening, the 15th coyote bite in the park in the last two months.

Kirk was with his small running group on the seawall just east on the Lions Gate Bridge when he felt a sharp pain in his lower leg.

“I felt a pinch on my leg, turned around and saw the coyote, and realized I’d been bitten. I tried to scare it off, yelled at it, I waved my arms, and it didn’t move. It was not afraid of me at all,” said Kirk.

The 36-year-old triathlete had seen coyotes while cycling in park trails before, but never on the seawall and the animals had never been aggressive.

“That was a shock to me to get bit while running,” he said “It’s a couple of puncture wounds on my lower leg. I had to go to the hospital to get it checked out.”

Of the 15 recent coyote attacks, 12 bites have been serious.

“Every occurrence, every attack in the last few months was involving runners and in some cases some bikers as well. It seems like the motion, the movement triggers the instinct and they go after it,” said Sgt. Simon Gravel with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service

That’s prompted an unprecedented warning. “We know that Stanley Park is hazardous right now we recommend people to not run in Stanley Park,” said Gravel. “If you choose to go and run, you should know you can encounter an aggressive (coyote) like this.”

Gravel says conservation would destroy the aggressive coyotes if they could be located, but they all look alike and officers believe there is more than one involved in the recent attacks.

“We’re looking at a bigger solution here and trying to understand what’s all going on and the contributing factors,” said Gravel. One theory? People are feeding the coyotes, so they expect to receive food from humans and become aggressive if they don’t get it.

“I wouldn’t put it past them to move into the city now if they’re coming right onto the seawall,” said Kirk. While his coyote bite wounds will heal, he’s worried small children could be targeted. “That would have been a much more aggressive bite on a child with softer tissues.”

The Conservation Officer Service wants all parkgoers to be on high alert, but Gravel is stopping short of asking everyone to stay out of Vancouver’s crown jewel.

“It would be fair to say maybe walking is safer, but we would advise that running is definitely a more risky activity in Stanley Park.”