Isobel McCready wants to warn others after she was stalked by a coyote while walking her dog through Westview Park on Friday.
McCready was visiting her sister at 207A Street and Dewdney Trunk Road when she decided to take her four-year-old rescue dog, a cross between a mini Australian shepherd and a papillon, out for a walk. At around 1 p.m., they ended up at Westview Park, along Wicklund Avenue between 209 Street and 210 Street, where they went into the fenced dog area.
“My dog was freaking out, anxious, had her nose in the air, wanted to get out of there,” said McCready.
So they left. As they were walking through the park, McCready could hear dogs barking across the street and somebody whistling. She thought maybe one of them had gotten loose.
As they walked through the park again, she kept her eyes open for the escaped dog.
When McCready glanced behind her, she saw what she thought to be the dog following around 20 feet behind them. But when it got to around 10 feet behind them, she realized that it was a large coyote.
“I freaked out and did what you are not supposed to do. I panicked and I picked my dog up,” said McCready, noting that Addie only weighs around 30 pounds.
“I picked her up and started running.”
As she was running she could see a letter carrier and yelled for help. The man approached her and saw the coyote and told her to stick by him. Then he walked her across the street and around the corner, where McCready called her sister to come and pick her up.
The coyote went back to the park and laid down by some trees and the trail.
McCready saw a man letting his dog off leash out of a car by the park and warned him about the coyote.
“This is a neighbourhood park. If that gentleman hadn’t have been doing that loud whistle, I wouldn’t have been paying attention,” said McCready.
Conservation officer Todd Hunter said the service can only provide a response when it’s a human-wildlife safety issue.
“We just do not have the capacity to chase around coyotes all over the Lower Mainland,” he added.
“When they do attack a person or there’s an extremely close encounter where someone’s been nipped at, that’s when we do attend.
“We can’t do a lot of trapping. They are very smart, intelligent critters. The best thing is a prevention to avoid these types of issues.”
Hunter advises never to allow pets to roam free outside and to always keep cats indoors and dogs leashed and under control at all times.
If you are approached by a coyote to make yourself large, yell and throw objects to scare it away.
Avoid walking dogs in bushy green spaces from twilight to sunrise and be aware that coyotes live and travel along rivers and green valley spaces.
Never feed any wildlife and if an animal appears injured or distressed to contact conservation.
The best defense, Hunter says, is for people to arm themselves with as much knowledge of a coyote’s behaviour.
• If people are still not sure about what to do call 1-877-952-7277.