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Cyclist bitten after two incidents of aggressive Coyotes in highlands

Photographer Michel Soucy witnessed a coyote chase after cyclists on McKenzie Mountain near Pleasant Bay on Friday and was able to capture some photos of the incident.

 September 13, 2023

-by Brad Chandler
    Officials with Parks Canada are still on the hunt for a coyote in the Cape Breton Highlands as of Tuesday after a cyclist was attacked and bitten last Wednesday afternoon.
    The cyclist was travelling the Cabot Trail near Green Cove in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, when they were approached by a coyote acting aggressively, according to a release.
    Park’s Canada said the coyote pursued the cyclist across the highway as they passed by.
    “The cyclist dismounted their bicycle and sustained a bite on their left forearm as they attempted to fend off the coyote,” the release said.
    The cyclist was released from hospital after a thorough examination later that day.
    On Friday, local photographer Michel Soucy and his wife Lucille were travelling towards Pleasant Bay near McKenzie Mountain, about 50km away from Green Cove, when they came upon what they thought was a dog running with two cyclists.
    “When we saw the cyclist, I said to myself, ‘look he’s got the dog running with him’ and then I quickly realized the guy was looking back and seemed a little frantic. That’s when I realized it was no dog, it was a coyote chasing him,” Soucy told The Oran Saturday morning.
    Soucy said the coyote was chasing the two cyclists from a distance of about 20 to 30 feet when he started honking his car horn to try and distract the coyote from running any further.
    Luckily, the coyote became frightened by the sound of the horn and ran roughly 15 feet into the woods and stood and watched Soucy as the cyclists rode off down the road.
    “About 15 minutes later, the coyote ran back out onto the road and started chasing after motorcycles. Then he started in the direction of the cyclists again,” Soucy said.
    Soucy and his wife continued up the road until they were able to alert a park ranger of the incident.
    Later on Friday, Parks Canada staff said they shot and killed what may have been the coyote which chased the cyclist that afternoon. However, they said they believe it was another coyote that was involved in Wednesday’s attack.
    On Monday, RCMP notified Parks Canada that they had “located and removed” a coyote in the Green Cove area on Sunday night. Although this may have been the same coyote involved in Wednesday’s incident, Parks Canada said they will be continuing their search for coyotes in the area “out of an abundance of caution.”
    According to Parks Canada, acting Resource Conservation Manager Jared Tomie, the coyote that had been killed was exhibiting “weird behaviour of not showing fear” similarly to the coyote involved in Wednesday’s attack.
    “It is not normal behaviour for coyotes to approach people, and to not be afraid of them,” he told The Oran. “It is abnormal, but historically we have seen that it could be caused by interactions between coyotes and humans over time.”
    “It’s hard to pinpoint the reason why (a coyote would act this way) but it seems that this animal would have become habituated with humans. Likely human sources of food; so we are encouraging people to dispose of their waste properly and to not leave any attractions nearby.”
    In the midst of his encounter with the coyote Friday, Soucy was able to capture some photographs of the animal with a long lens camera he had in his car.
    He said he often goes out looking for coyotes to photograph in the area because of how often he would see them.
    “I have lived here with my wife for 10 years, but I have never seen anything like this,” he said. “I have been approached by them before, but this was the first time I felt threatened or (fearful) of them being aggressive.”
    In 2009, Toronto musician Taylor Mitchell, 19, was killed while hiking along the Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands in what was only the second fatal coyote attack recorded in North America.
    The following year, a 16-year-old girl camping at the Broad Cove campgrounds with her family was attacked by a coyote in the middle of the night while sleeping in a sleeping bag outside a nearby tent.
    Tomie said Parks Canada “takes these incidents very seriously.”
    “We do have a protocol that requires us to patrol and gather as much information about the incident itself and to seek out the animal.”
    Over the weekend, Tomie said there have been “one or two” sightings of the animal.
    He said typical protocol following an animal showing aggression is to patrol the area for five days. However in this incident, he said rangers will extend that timeline until at least Friday.
    To facilitate the search safely and effectively, Parks Canada have announced the following closures in effect from September 11th until September 15th. Black Brook decommissioned campground, Mary Ann Falls Road, Green Cove, and Broad Cove Mountain trails.
    Pedestrian traffic is also prohibited on the Cabot Trail between the areas of Black Brook and the road to Warren Lake. Jigging Cove, Jack Pine, and the Coastal trails have all reopened, as well as the Black Brook Day Use Area following the initial area closures over the weekend.
    Parks Canada encourages locals to check the Cape Breton Highlands National Park’s Facebook page for up-to-date information on closure.
















































































































































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