Can Canada's killer coyote species show up in Los Angeles?

By Donna Barstow

Last week Taylor Mitchell, a promising young musician from Toronto, was mauled and killed by two coyotes while hiking alone in Nova Scotia. Other hikers heard her screams and she was airlifted to Halifax, but died October 28. She was a folk and country musician nominated for a 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award in the Young Performer of the Year category.

Just five weeks ago, an urban coyote scare hit Griffith Park when two men claimed a coyote bit them, going for their feet. Then the city's Animal Services and Recreation and Parks folks called in shooters from the USDA to kill seven coyotes, getting City Hall in hot water.

Fish & Game and the USDA tell us that nine animals were killed, and that the medical reports show one man was scratched on his foot, the other bruised on his foot. And then we learned that one man was a city employee goofing off instead of working on the day he was confronted by the coyote, so the report lagged the actual attack.

The Los Angeles Times blog, Outposts, wondered how likely it is that a Canadian-style coyote attack could happen in L.A. Here's the answer:

Impossible. Coyotes in eastern North America are a

totally different breed--some call them  coywolfs because they're part wolf and 11 pounds heavier on average.

Griffith Park Ranger Tom Mendidles told the Weekly: "Those coyotes are called hybrids, half-wolf, but there aren't any in

the Park. Griffith Park is like an island, separated by houses and

freeways from any outlying packs or interbreeding."


Kevin Cooper, a federal expert, adds, "since they are part wolf, their patterns and behavior are

probably going to be different, too, just as with wolf-dogs." But L.A. coyotes are still predators, "so be careful with pets and small children."
 


The Chronicle Herald of Nova Scotia is reporting that the Canada attack was bizarre because, as researcher Jon Way notes, "I don't think they regard people, even kids, as an opportunity for a

food source ... They certainly are not like (big) cats

that regard people as food, they just don't do that."


Tests were completed yesterday, and one coywolf killed by Canadian officials was a

healthy female, not starving.


Here's an interesting PS to this strange tale: In The New York Times on Sunday, Taylor Mitchell's mother asked

authorities to spare any remaining coyotes involved in the attack. A

Parks Canada conservation officer responded, "We're not out here conducting a general cull."


Apparently Canadian officials doesn't share the same genes as L.A. city officials.


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