Officials in Vancouver have issued a warning that angry and mostly fearless coyotes have been attacking people and dogs in the city’s Stanley Park. Numerous people have been aggressively bitten by the coyotes, which are commonly found in North America but generally aren’t a risk to humans. Among other things, experts say these coyotes may be consuming drugs.
Coyotes can be found across Mexico, the US, and most of Canada; these canines are smaller than their wolf sibling and though it’s not unusual to stumble upon one, coyote attacks on humans are rare. Things are changing, however, as humans encroach upon coyotes’ natural habitat, bringing them in closer proximity to people.
Over time, coyotes can lose their natural fear of humans and, in the absence of fear, they may become aggressive with people and their pets. That’s an issue Vancouver is currently dealing with, but it may be compounded by a surprising additional issue: experts say that some of the problematic coyotes are displaying behaviors indicating they may have eaten drugs.
Canada’s CTV News reports that aggression from coyotes directed at humans has increased this year; the most recent incident happened in mid-August when a man walking his dog was bitten on the leg, drawing blood. As well, three known coyotes attacks happened recently over the course of four days.
University of Calgary coyote expert Shelley Alexander discussed this with the local news agency, explaining that a confluence of factors may be the driving force behind this unusual change. A big issue appears to be humans feeding coyotes, which is an attack “precursor.” As well, homeless encampments have driven coyotes from their natural habitats and closer to people.
Abnormal behaviors have also been observed that leads experts to believe some of the coyotes may have experienced abuse, and that they’ve possibly consumed drugs like opioids or some sort of toxin. The food issue likely remains the driving factor behind these attacks, however, with experts advising people in the region to avoid these problematic areas.