A Vancouver city councillor wants to see a new bylaw allowing the city to ticket anyone caught feeding a wild animal.
It comes as a victim of a wild coyote attack in Stanley Park says she could face a six-month recovery from the incident.
Azi Ramezani was jogging on Stanley Park Drive near Prospect Point in late January, when one of the animals came out of the underbrush and bit her in the back of the leg.
Ramezani suffered a fall from the attack, and later learned she had detached her hamstring muscles and suffered nerve damage.
“When they bite you, the teeth go deep into your skin,” she told CKNW’s Jill Bennett Show.
“I had surgery about a month ago, after my attack. So I’m living a very immobile life … I can’t sit, can’t walk and have six months of intensive rehab ahead of me,” she said.
Ramezani, a contract teacher’s assistant, has been left out of work and collecting EI while she makes her recovery. She’s also been told she may never recover full mobility.
Conservation officers have been repeatedly called to the park — there have been over a dozen coyote attacks or aggressive displays leading back to December.
Two of the animals had already been euthanized prior to the attack.
Officials believe the aggressive behaviour is a result of people intentionally feeding the animals. Once they become habituated to human contact, they grow bolder and expect food from humans, according to conservation officers.
Coyotes haven’t been the only culprit either. Some recent raccoon attacks have, at least anecdotally, been attributed to feeding.
That’s prompted a motion from Coun. Pete Fry that would make feeding wild animals in the city a ticketable offence.
Feeding wild animals is already illegal under the B.C. Wildlife Act, and a provision in the Parks Control bylaw, which bans dropping food or grain on the ground.
According to Fry, no fines have been issued under either regulation in recent years.
“Wild animals can suffer when they get used to eating human food instead of their natural diet,” state’s Fry’s motion.
“When people feed wildlife, the animals become habituated and can lose their healthy fear of people, this increases their chances of being injured or killed. Feeding wildlife can also directly or indirectly cause aggression in animals, attract vermin and other pests and transmit disease.”
Other cities, like Victoria, have municipal bylaws that explicitly outlaw feeding wild animals. The BC SPCA also supports the creation of municipal bylaws to discourage wildlife feeding.
Fry wants staff to come up with a bylaw that empowers city bylaw officers to fine anyone caught intentionally feeding wildlife, leaving attractants out for animals or attracting them to their properties.
The proposal would exempt hummingbird feeders and songbird feeders that are rat and squirrel proof.
Ramezani, who has been jogging in the park without incident for a decade, also believes the recent surge in aggressive coyote is linked to human activities.
“People have come forward, letting the conservation officers know they’ve regularly seen people feeding the animals,” she said.
“This is unfair to us using the park and to the animals who’ve lived in the park for so long with zero problems.”
Council is slated to debate the motion on Tuesday.