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Coyotes who ingested illegal drugs could be behind a rise in vicious attacks at a city park, expert says

Summary List PlacementIllegal hard drugs could be to blame for an unusual rise in coyote attacks on people in a densely forested Canadian park, CTV News reported. More than 3o coyote attacks have been reported in Stanley Park in Vancouver in recent months, according to CTV News. Three of the attacks happened within a four-day period. The most recent occurred on Tuesday when a 69-year-old man was bitten while walking along a trail at night. Other incidents involved coyotes biting two people in the leg during a picnic, injuring a five-year-old child, and killing dogs. Read more: How an iconic brand and...

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Illegal hard drugs could be to blame for an unusual rise in coyote attacks on people in a densely forested Canadian park, CTV News reported.

More than 3o coyote attacks have been reported in Stanley Park in Vancouver in recent months, according to CTV News. Three of the attacks happened within a four-day period.

The most recent occurred on Tuesday when a 69-year-old man was bitten while walking along a trail at night. Other incidents involved coyotes biting two people in the leg during a picnic, injuring a five-year-old child, and killing dogs.

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Shelley Alexander, a coyote expert who teaches at the University of Calgary, told CTV News that there is “a constellation of events” that lead to these attacks, one of which is “chronic feeding.”

But Alexander said there could also be another reason for the coyote’s aggressive actions.

“The behavior of some of these individuals suggests they’ve ingested toxins and or drugs, possibly opioids. There’s also some indication of possible abuse of these animals,” she told CTV News.

“This is abnormal behavior that we’re seeing but the key thing is here they’ve lost their bite inhibition and so this is no longer a situation that you could consider a co-existence scenario.”

Alexander also said that homeless encampments in the park are contributing to the problem.

“I looked at some of the maps and there’s the displacement of coyotes from their normal area of living by the homeless encampments,” she said, according to CTV News. “These animals have now been pushed into fringe areas where they’re more in contact with people and more likely to get into conflict.”

The British Columbia Conservation Officer Service is warning the public to stay away from the park, writing on Facebook: “If you are in the park use abundant caution, as there is a high risk of encountering an aggressive coyote – particularly during dawn or dusk hours when coyotes tend to be more active.”

Coyote attacks like these are unusual. One study documented 367 attacks on humans from 1977 to 2015, throughout Canada and the United States.

Anyone who notices a coyote approaching them can respond by yelling, putting their arms up, clapping their hands, or using an umbrella. 

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