INGONISH, N.S. –
Parks Canada teams were searching along Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail on Friday to catch and euthanize a coyote that attacked a cyclist earlier this week.
The parks service said an aggressive coyote bit a cyclist on the arm on Wednesday near Green Cove, in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The animal crossed the highway, pursued the cyclist, and bit her after she got off her bike, Parks Canada said.
“She dismounted her bicycle and used it as a shield to protect herself,” Erich Muntz, the park’s resource conservation manager, said in an interview. “In that exchange the coyote jumped and bit her in the forearm and she received a minor bite wound.”
Muntz said a driver who was passing by got out of their vehicle and used a hiking stick or “pole of some kind” to fend off the animal. The bite victim was taken to a local hospital and released following treatment.
“The individuals did really what was required even though it was difficult,” Muntz said. “The most important thing in these types of incidents is to be aggressive towards the coyote.”
He said patrols were being carried out in the area of the attack, adding that some of those looking for the coyote were carrying firearms.
“This behaviour is not acceptable and the outcome for this is that we do hope to kill this animal and remove the bad behaviour from the gene pool,” said Muntz, who added that the decision was made with “appropriate thought and consideration.”
“Because this is not the first time we’ve had to deal with this we do have protocols in place,” he said. “In this circumstance, when a coyote makes contact with an individual, that triggers a response that justifies euthanizing an animal.”
Coyote attacks in the national park are not uncommon, and a fatal attack occurred in October 2009. Taylor Mitchell, a 19-year-old singer-songwriter from Toronto, died while hiking the park’s Skyline Trail alone. Her death was the second fatal coyote attack recorded in North America.
Muntz said he doesn’t think Wednesday’s attack was predatory in nature.
“There’s something about the (bike) noise or the movement that causes coyotes and dogs problems,” he said. “They seem to get into a chase sequence it’s almost like a very primitive chase that they feel they have to do.”
In a statement, the parks service advised the public to exercise caution and avoid walking or cycling in the area. It also advised people against feeding coyotes or enticing the animals to come close to them.
Parks Canada says people should not run away if approached by a coyote. Instead, they should maintain eye contact with the animal and try to appear bigger by waving their arms and shouting. The parks service says people should throw hard objects, such as rocks, at the animal to scare it off.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2023.
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