‘Fearless’ coyotes stalking Ridge school, park

Coyote complaints have more than doubled in the past year. - THE NEWS/files
Coyote complaints have more than doubled in the past year.
— image credit: THE NEWS/files

A woman wants to warn others living near Harry Hooge elementary about a brazen pack of coyotes in the area.

Paula Balascak walks her yellow lab on the trails near the school and in Harry Hooge Park at 230th Street and Abernethy Way almost daily, and had unnerving brushes with coyotes.

They approach very close, within 20 feet, despite her dog’s aggressive barking, and despite her throwing rocks at them.

“They’re not scared at all – they come toward me,” Balascak said. “It was too close for comfort.”

She said they appear to be “just being snoopy,” but show no fear of man, or the aggressive dog.

Once while she was walking in the area, a fire truck driving down Abernethy sounded its sirens, and a coyote close by began to howl. Then more sounded off in the forest nearby. She counted four distinct voices, so figures there are at least that many in the pack.

Balascak does not want to risk any sort of incident with the coyotes, and is now avoiding the school and trails.

The park is a popular place for people to let their dogs off leash, and Balascak wants them to know that there is a risk their animals could encounter coyotes.

“They’re big – they look like dogs,” she said. “They’re a good size and a good weight – and we have a lot of signs up around the neighbourhood for missing cats.”

Coyote complaints in Maple Ridge have more than doubled this year – from 97 to 216 – using stats from April 1 to Dec. 11, 2012 compared with the same time frame in 2013.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service also reports nine coyotes were killed in that time period, compared with five last year.

Conservation officers say 90 per cent of complaints are from people with experiences like Balascak, who are fearful that coyotes approach too close. They worry about the safety of their pets and their children.

Coyotes will stalk people as they walk their dogs, or while they hike a rural trail. While this behaviour is unnerving, it is seldom dangerous for people, said Sgt. Steven Jacobi.

He noted that bites from domestic dogs are more common than those from coyotes, so people should keep the danger in perspective.

“The coyote is after your food, or your pet.”

He said there are also frequent reports about people feeding coyotes and other wildlife. This is a crime that can lead to fines. Coyotes are not relocated. Where they represent a danger, they are killed.


Call centre

If a coyote has acted aggressively or displayed aggressive behaviour towards a human, refer to the Ministry Call Centre (1-877-952-7277).


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