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well fellas...
The old saying is that "familiarity breeds contempt! Recent confrontations with people in NB and NS and one fatality in NS as a result of a Coyote attack has started me wondering what's going on out in our woods.I've encountered Coyotes many times over the years but I have noticed that they seem less reluctant to run away when I meet them today, especially when their natural food sources are scarce. Do you think maybe they are evolving and changing their views on humans from us being creatures to fear...to "critters to eat"? Now I know most of them will run away quickly but they all have different personalities...just like other animals...some are shy, some are curious...some are bold. Maybe they are like black bears...nine out of ten of those critters will turn inside out to get away from us...but its that tenth one we have to beware of...that one aggressive bear...and the problem is...we don't know which one is that "tenth" bear? And with coyotes...well they often hunt in packs and take their "cues" from the pack leader on what to do when they meet us, run or attack...hopefully...he's a shy one or we've got a gun or bow with us! What do you think about Coyotes and are they indeed, changing in their attitudes towards us ?
 

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"Pack" is a pretty loose term since they are that years family group and not a pack that will stay together several years. That is the reason they take the cue from the leader as they are learning from their parent.
I never gave a thought to any coyote or group of coyotes. I love to listen to them. I was out checking traps one morning around 3:30am and could hear a bunch coming yipping and yapping. They split and went around on both sides of me. I wasn't worried about them but I know the nape of my neck was crawling.

I don't believe we ever got the full/correct story of that jogger in NS. I don't believe any coyote will knowingly attack an adult human. That being said I believe that they are becoming acclimatized to people in certain areas and will become more "bold".
All other confrontations that I can think of in NB were where the coyotes were going after pets and not the people. One such "attack" I laughed when I read about. The coyote was going after the dog and the lady grabbed the coyote and beat him off. I kept thinking that the poor coyote was the one attacked trying to get a meal, not the women.

Out in the country no bold coyote survives more than a season to realize the err of such.
 

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Bowtech,

What do you think might be missing from the story?
"I don't believe we ever got the full/correct story of that jogger in NS. I don't believe any coyote will knowingly attack an adult human"
If you weren't worried why this comment "I wasn't worried about them but I know the nape of my neck was crawling."
 

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I've always wondered if latent wolf genes are coming out in Eastern coyotes that are attacking humans. Examples of their 'packing' behaviour recently also kind of lends credence to this half-assed theory of mine. (Not talking about family packs, but packs of adults which have been seen more and more often in the past coupla decades.) I dunno. Just sayin'.
I've also wondered if that lady who was attacked and said she fought a coyote for five minutes in Kent Co. while protecting her puppy was on glue or simply prone to hyperbole. Any coyote worth the name won't take five minutes to get a puppy out of someone's arms and will likely take the arms along with the puppy. I do realize that she might have "thought" it "felt like" five minutes, but my spider senses are tingling on that tale. She ended up with a little scratch on one finger. hmmmmm.
I got worse than that on any given Saturday night from my first wife. And she weren't no coyote. Not even a cougar.
 

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Hoytman,
Glad you found it interesting.
I guess I just feel bad for the girl and her family and responded as such.Maybe to much emotion?
 

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Brent Patterson, a research scientist for Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources, has studied coyotes in Southern Ontario and on Cape Breton Island. He also sees coyote fearlessness toward humans as an increasing problem, for the coyotes as much as for us.

"It's tempting to have this romantic view that we can be kin to these predators, but we'll all get along better if we keep these animals fearful of us," says Patterson.

Otherwise, we may end up with people demanding a return to mass and indiscriminate killings of coyote populations, as happened recently in Osgoode, on the southern outskirts of Ottawa. A few weeks after the attack in Cape Breton, a coyote lunged at 16-year-old Joey Schulz while he was picking apples in an orchard. The encounter spurred city councillor Doug Thompson to call for a widespread cull, and the Osgoode Township Fish, Game and Conservation Club launched the Great Coyote Cull Contest, in which successful hunters were to bring in proof of a dead coyote to enter a draw for a new shotgun.

The fatal attack on Taylor Mitchell was only the second documented human death attributed to coyotes.

(In 1981, a coyote killed a three-year-old girl in Glendale, California.) And though it's true that the vast majority of coyotes remain fearful of humans and pose no threat to human safety, the number of attacks is growing markedly.

According to researchers Lynsey White and Stanley Gehrt from Ohio State University, coyotes bit 159 North Americans between 1960 and 2006, and the frequency of these encounters has been increasing steadily since 1985. Shelley Alexander and Michael Quinn from the University of Calgary report that from the 1970s to today, there have been 17 attacks in Alberta, 12 in B.C., 10 in Ontario, three in Nova Scotia and one in Saskatchewan, with adults accounting for more than half of those who suffered injuries. A Parks Canada database shows more than 60 "unacceptable encounters" since 2003 in seven national parks in Alberta, B.C., Nova Scotia and Manitoba.

Robert Timm, a wildlife specialist at the University of California, suggests that to maintain a healthy relationship with coyotes as a species we need to be able to recognize problems before individual animals lose their fear of humans. Timm and his colleague Rex Baker have developed a seven-point scale to measure a coyote's transition from being naturally fearful toward humans to being a safety threat. The progression starts with increases in nighttime sightings of coyotes, then nighttime approaches by coyotes, then daytime sightings, then daytime attacks on unleashed pets, and then instances of coyotes following people. The progression continues with coyotes hanging around children's areas during the day, which leads, finally, to coyotes acting aggressively toward adults during the day. Timm says this progression will likely occur with all habituated coyotes if they do not receive any negative consequences as a result of being near humans (hazing measures include shouting, pepper spray and rubber bullets).

Valerius Geist, who has identified a similar pattern in deteriorating wolf-human relationships, explains that a predator that is considering taking on a new prey species usually follows a drawn-out process of learning through careful observation and timid exploratory attacks.

"The first indication of a coyote targeting humans as alternative prey is that the coyote is interested in and watching people," says Geist. "In the next weeks or months, these coyotes will come closer and closer to humans."

If Geist and Timm are right, it would seem the attack on Taylor Mitchell did not happen out of the blue, but was the culmination of a prolonged process of coyote habituation to humans. The Skyline Trail, after all, is the park's busiest, seeing 25,000 hikers a year. So, were coyotes watching visitors to Cape Breton Highlands National Park?

Derek Quann, a park manager, says that Cape Breton Highlands' history of coyote encounters started only about 10 years ago. He notes the park has responded to reports of "unacceptable" coyote behaviour on an annual basis since then, sometimes up to five a year. Park staff were forced to destroy three animals prior to last year, but Quann stresses the Skyline Trail area was not a trouble spot before the attack.

"People have reported being followed in the park," Quann confirms. "The fatality was an extreme extension of existing behaviour. In a national park the tendency has been to give the animals what we consider a fair shake. We may have been too tolerant. We didn't see these animals as the threat they can be."

The park responded to the attack on Mitchell swiftly, shooting a female coyote that returned to the scene shortly afterwards. A necropsy confirmed that the animal had been involved in the attack. Four other animals were caught in leg traps and shot within a kilometre of the site over the next few days and on November 4, five kilometres away, a large male was trapped and shot. Shotgun pellets found in the animal confirmed this was the coyote wounded by RCMP constable Rompré at the scene. Perhaps to the dismay of some looking for tidy answers, the necropsy table revealed that both the female and male were healthy, not driven to attack by rabies or hunger.

The investigation also raised a new question.

While the photographs of the two coyotes taken by the American hikers showed that one of them had distinctive markings, neither the female killed the day of the attack nor the male killed on November 4 had similar markings. Is it possible Mitchell was being stalked by a lone coyote and that when the two approaching coyotes came on to the scene the three set upon her, with the distinctively marked animal fleeing as the four hikers arrived? It's likely nobody will ever know.

Meanwhile, in mid-November, a couple walking on the Cabot Trail just seven kilometres from the Skyline Trail was being followed by a coyote so closely that one hiker hit it on the head with his walking stick.

In early December, a folk music club in Toronto held a tribute evening for Taylor Mitchell. In the front row sat Gordon Lightfoot, while in the back row members of the Skydiggers roots rock band chatted with acclaimed singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge.
Rutledge had contributed to Taylor Mitchell's first album, and remembers being impressed with the maturity of the woman who died so young

"She wrote beyond her years," says Rutledge. "She didn't provide answers, as so many of her age try to do. There was no preciousness about her. Instead she asked questions."

In her death, Mitchell has posed yet more questions. And back in Cape Breton, Derek Quann has spent the winter asking some of his own.

"We need to find out how coyotes learn, how they pass on knowledge, what role people can play. And what tipped the balance in this case," says Quann. "After all, coyote sightings are common in the park."

Perhaps too common. He may have just stumbled upon the first answer.

When Coyotes Turn Ugly

Brent Patterson, a research scientist for Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources, says that anytime you see a coyote, it should be at a distance, and preferably showing you its tail. If you are confronted by an unusually bold coyote, you should pose as a formidable opponent by making noise and acting assertive. Give the coyote space and retreat slowly if you can, but don't turn your back, run or do anything to trigger the animal's chase reflex.

Patterson encourages hikers to report fearless or curious coyotes to the appropriate authorities, saying that reinvigorating a coyote's fear of people can be simple, if done early.

He suggests dog owners keep pets on a leash, even if the dog is bigger than a coyote. Admitting he ignored his own advice with his retriever, he recalls watching his dog chase a smaller coyote into some brush near Peterborough, Ontario, only to have both animals charge out in reverse order shortly afterward, with a puncture wound in his dog's shoulder
 

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Hi All,
Another good "thinker" P1. You're on a roll with excellent thought provoking posts.

There is no gene in any animal that dictates "fear of man". It is all learned behaviour that coyotes or bears or wolves learn from their leaders/parents. It's really just a natural fear of the unknown...the same reason that many children are scared of snakes and spiders. If a child's parents react scared and run away, so will the child, but if the parent acts curious toward the snake or spider, then the child will likely do the same.

As some others had previously hinted towards, carnivores typically don't attack humans unless they are 1.)desperate for food, 2.)protecting their young/food source, or 3.)just happen to be that big bad "tenth" bear. Although these rules tend to apply to all carnivores, it's really only bears who are large enough to be this bold. We are all bigger than any coyote you'll ever meet in the woods, and a coyote that attacks a human is really risking its own life. I believe that the reason that bears and coyotes typically run like hell to get away from us is because we are relatively large, and they've never seen a mentor(parent) ever attack a human...so they don't know if they can win that fight. There are many critters in the woods that are much smaller than us who strut confidently. The reason that porcupines and skunks never get attacked is because no coyote or bear has ever witnessed one of their kind win a fight against them...so the risk of attacking one is too great. The same goes for humans.

So after reading about the "increased" amount of coyote-human incidences, I'm left wondering two things:

1. Is there really an increase, or is it that the media is covering every single attack now? Is there really an increase in coyote attacks or just an increase in media coverage of coyote attacks? We all know how the media works.
OR
2. Are coyotes becoming desperate for food? Does anyone have any stats on coyote populations? Is the coyote population really high right now, or are their prey populations down? If the numbers are really high, then we can expect that there is a lot of competition between them for food, and this would force the weak and sick ones to desperate actions like attacking humans.

When I lived in Yellowknife I would walk my dogs on the ski-doo trails at night, and I would often be followed by coyotes. They never followed us for long. I'm sure they were just hoping that my puppy would stray far enough away from me for it to attack the pup. I noticed that I never ever saw coyotes follow us in the summer months. I figure that they must have a plentiful food source in the summer, so they had no need to even consider me or one of my dogs as a meal during the summer, but as food became scarce in the winter they would start getting a little desperate and would investigate alternative food sources.

Just my thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, Murray...
And thanks to the rest of you who responded with your own thoughts on the subject. As usual, you guys come through with some thought provoking insights as well. I appreciate that. Oh yes, You lived in NWT, Murray?...Now that must've been "cool" in ways besides the temps up there!A hunter's dream?
 

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I get that feeling Linnie even when I hear coyotes at a distance. It's the sound not the fear of coyotes, get the same feeling with nails on a chalkboard. The last thing I worry about in the woods is a coyote or group of coyotes.
As a father I feel as bad for the parents as you do but that has nothing to do with believing the story as related. Something about the whole story just doesn't ring true to me. An athletic girl in the prime of condition and life is killed by coyotes, yet the same coyotes run off without a backward glance when a few more hickers walk by? I just don't believe that was all there was to it.
 

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I don't fear any dog, domestic or wild. (yes, I am calling a coyote a dog, its not accurate, but you know what I mean)

I have every single confidence that if a coyote tried to take a bite out of me, that I would be wearing it as a hat.

I have heard of coyotes being a bit bold, even locally on Mud Lake trail.

Lets face it, if an animal has enough contact with humans, they will be "acclimatized" and be more curious. Look at a 2 year old, they will test boundaries with parents. Coyotes I feel are not really much different. They are testing boundaries, they are hunters of opportunity. If you give them the opportunity, they are going to take it. If you square off, and start walking toward them, you can be sure they are going to vanish.

I remember riding my bicycle from Fredericton to Saint John one Friday after work. I was about 20 and It was good and dark, and I could hear the nails clicking on the pavement behind me. Man was I scared, a car went by and laid on the horn, so I really knew something was there. It must have followed me for a good 5 miles. Today... well... I would not dream of that bike ride,
but I would have stopped, and put the run to it.

I have been attacked by some domesticated dogs before, got bit a few times, nothing too serious. Let me tell you that the dogs learned a lesson that day. To this day, if I walk by those dogs, they pee on the ground. I love dogs, and would give my last morsel of food in the cupboard to my dog, but I will not tolerate any sort of aggression unchecked.
 

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Hi All,
Another good "thinker" P1. You're on a roll with excellent thought provoking posts.

There is no gene in any animal that dictates "fear of man". It is all learned behaviour that coyotes or bears or wolves learn from their leaders/parents. It's really just a natural fear of the unknown...the same reason that many children are scared of snakes and spiders. If a child's parents react scared and run away, so will the child, but if the parent acts curious toward the snake or spider, then the child will likely do the same.

As some others had previously hinted towards, carnivores typically don't attack humans unless they are 1.)desperate for food, 2.)protecting their young/food source, or 3.)just happen to be that big bad "tenth" bear. Although these rules tend to apply to all carnivores, it's really only bears who are large enough to be this bold. We are all bigger than any coyote you'll ever meet in the woods, and a coyote that attacks a human is really risking its own life. I believe that the reason that bears and coyotes typically run like hell to get away from us is because we are relatively large, and they've never seen a mentor(parent) ever attack a human...so they don't know if they can win that fight. There are many critters in the woods that are much smaller than us who strut confidently. The reason that porcupines and skunks never get attacked is because no coyote or bear has ever witnessed one of their kind win a fight against them...so the risk of attacking one is too great. The same goes for humans.

So after reading about the "increased" amount of coyote-human incidences, I'm left wondering two things:

1. Is there really an increase, or is it that the media is covering every single attack now? Is there really an increase in coyote attacks or just an increase in media coverage of coyote attacks? We all know how the media works.
OR
2. Are coyotes becoming desperate for food? Does anyone have any stats on coyote populations? Is the coyote population really high right now, or are their prey populations down? If the numbers are really high, then we can expect that there is a lot of competition between them for food, and this would force the weak and sick ones to desperate actions like attacking humans.

When I lived in Yellowknife I would walk my dogs on the ski-doo trails at night, and I would often be followed by coyotes. They never followed us for long. I'm sure they were just hoping that my puppy would stray far enough away from me for it to attack the pup. I noticed that I never ever saw coyotes follow us in the summer months. I figure that they must have a plentiful food source in the summer, so they had no need to even consider me or one of my dogs as a meal during the summer, but as food became scarce in the winter they would start getting a little desperate and would investigate alternative food sources.

Just my thoughts.
 

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Brent Patterson, a research scientist for Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources, has studied coyotes in Southern Ontario and on Cape Breton Island. He also sees coyote fearlessness toward humans as an increasing problem, for the coyotes as much as for us.

"It's tempting to have this romantic view that we can be kin to these predators, but we'll all get along better if we keep these animals fearful of us," says Patterson.

Otherwise, we may end up with people demanding a return to mass and indiscriminate killings of coyote populations, as happened recently in Osgoode, on the southern outskirts of Ottawa. A few weeks after the attack in Cape Breton, a coyote lunged at 16-year-old Joey Schulz while he was picking apples in an orchard. The encounter spurred city councillor Doug Thompson to call for a widespread cull, and the Osgoode Township Fish, Game and Conservation Club launched the Great Coyote Cull Contest, in which successful hunters were to bring in proof of a dead coyote to enter a draw for a new shotgun.

The fatal attack on Taylor Mitchell was only the second documented human death attributed to coyotes.

(In 1981, a coyote killed a three-year-old girl in Glendale, California.) And though it's true that the vast majority of coyotes remain fearful of humans and pose no threat to human safety, the number of attacks is growing markedly.

According to researchers Lynsey White and Stanley Gehrt from Ohio State University, coyotes bit 159 North Americans between 1960 and 2006, and the frequency of these encounters has been increasing steadily since 1985. Shelley Alexander and Michael Quinn from the University of Calgary report that from the 1970s to today, there have been 17 attacks in Alberta, 12 in B.C., 10 in Ontario, three in Nova Scotia and one in Saskatchewan, with adults accounting for more than half of those who suffered injuries. A Parks Canada database shows more than 60 "unacceptable encounters" since 2003 in seven national parks in Alberta, B.C., Nova Scotia and Manitoba.

Robert Timm, a wildlife specialist at the University of California, suggests that to maintain a healthy relationship with coyotes as a species we need to be able to recognize problems before individual animals lose their fear of humans. Timm and his colleague Rex Baker have developed a seven-point scale to measure a coyote's transition from being naturally fearful toward humans to being a safety threat. The progression starts with increases in nighttime sightings of coyotes, then nighttime approaches by coyotes, then daytime sightings, then daytime attacks on unleashed pets, and then instances of coyotes following people. The progression continues with coyotes hanging around children's areas during the day, which leads, finally, to coyotes acting aggressively toward adults during the day. Timm says this progression will likely occur with all habituated coyotes if they do not receive any negative consequences as a result of being near humans (hazing measures include shouting, pepper spray and rubber bullets).

Valerius Geist, who has identified a similar pattern in deteriorating wolf-human relationships, explains that a predator that is considering taking on a new prey species usually follows a drawn-out process of learning through careful observation and timid exploratory attacks.

"The first indication of a coyote targeting humans as alternative prey is that the coyote is interested in and watching people," says Geist. "In the next weeks or months, these coyotes will come closer and closer to humans."

If Geist and Timm are right, it would seem the attack on Taylor Mitchell did not happen out of the blue, but was the culmination of a prolonged process of coyote habituation to humans. The Skyline Trail, after all, is the park's busiest, seeing 25,000 hikers a year. So, were coyotes watching visitors to Cape Breton Highlands National Park?

Derek Quann, a park manager, says that Cape Breton Highlands' history of coyote encounters started only about 10 years ago. He notes the park has responded to reports of "unacceptable" coyote behaviour on an annual basis since then, sometimes up to five a year. Park staff were forced to destroy three animals prior to last year, but Quann stresses the Skyline Trail area was not a trouble spot before the attack.

"People have reported being followed in the park," Quann confirms. "The fatality was an extreme extension of existing behaviour. In a national park the tendency has been to give the animals what we consider a fair shake. We may have been too tolerant. We didn't see these animals as the threat they can be."

The park responded to the attack on Mitchell swiftly, shooting a female coyote that returned to the scene shortly afterwards. A necropsy confirmed that the animal had been involved in the attack. Four other animals were caught in leg traps and shot within a kilometre of the site over the next few days and on November 4, five kilometres away, a large male was trapped and shot. Shotgun pellets found in the animal confirmed this was the coyote wounded by RCMP constable Rompré at the scene. Perhaps to the dismay of some looking for tidy answers, the necropsy table revealed that both the female and male were healthy, not driven to attack by rabies or hunger.

The investigation also raised a new question.

While the photographs of the two coyotes taken by the American hikers showed that one of them had distinctive markings, neither the female killed the day of the attack nor the male killed on November 4 had similar markings. Is it possible Mitchell was being stalked by a lone coyote and that when the two approaching coyotes came on to the scene the three set upon her, with the distinctively marked animal fleeing as the four hikers arrived? It's likely nobody will ever know.

Meanwhile, in mid-November, a couple walking on the Cabot Trail just seven kilometres from the Skyline Trail was being followed by a coyote so closely that one hiker hit it on the head with his walking stick.

In early December, a folk music club in Toronto held a tribute evening for Taylor Mitchell. In the front row sat Gordon Lightfoot, while in the back row members of the Skydiggers roots rock band chatted with acclaimed singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge.
Rutledge had contributed to Taylor Mitchell's first album, and remembers being impressed with the maturity of the woman who died so young

"She wrote beyond her years," says Rutledge. "She didn't provide answers, as so many of her age try to do. There was no preciousness about her. Instead she asked questions."

In her death, Mitchell has posed yet more questions. And back in Cape Breton, Derek Quann has spent the winter asking some of his own.

"We need to find out how coyotes learn, how they pass on knowledge, what role people can play. And what tipped the balance in this case," says Quann. "After all, coyote sightings are common in the park."

Perhaps too common. He may have just stumbled upon the first answer.

When Coyotes Turn Ugly

Brent Patterson, a research scientist for Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources, says that anytime you see a coyote, it should be at a distance, and preferably showing you its tail. If you are confronted by an unusually bold coyote, you should pose as a formidable opponent by making noise and acting assertive. Give the coyote space and retreat slowly if you can, but don't turn your back, run or do anything to trigger the animal's chase reflex.

Patterson encourages hikers to report fearless or curious coyotes to the appropriate authorities, saying that reinvigorating a coyote's fear of people can be simple, if done early.

He suggests dog owners keep pets on a leash, even if the dog is bigger than a coyote. Admitting he ignored his own advice with his retriever, he recalls watching his dog chase a smaller coyote into some brush near Peterborough, Ontario, only to have both animals charge out in reverse order shortly afterward, with a puncture wound in his dog's shoulder
Interesting post.
 
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