Coyotes spotted in North Okanagan school yard

Coyotes spotted in North Okanagan school yard

Conservation Officer offers tips for students to stay safe

A couple of coyotes were spotted at Harwood Elementary School Tuesday afternoon.

“They’re called urban coyotes and we have lots of them in Vernon,” said Mike Richardson, Vernon Conservation Officer.

While it’s not very often they will come around schools, the coyotes were reported in the Harwood field around 1 p.m. by a neighbour.

“I wouldn’t imagine it hung around for much longer once the kids got out of school,” said Richardson, who said the dogs aren’t a threat. “They don’t like the noise.”

While coyotes don’t usually go after humans, as they are afraid of us, Richardson offers some tips for kids to stay safe.

”Don’t feed them, don’t leave any food on the school grounds, make sure it goes into the garbage.

Kids should also stay in groups while walking home if they see a coyote.

“Make yourselves big, take off your backpack, put it on your head and yell at them. Throw things if you can. They’re very easy to scare off,” said Richardson, adding that if a coyote does approach you and you have something in your hand, hit it.

“Don’t turn your back on them.”

Students who see coyotes around the school are urged to tell a teacher.

Anyone who notices any aggressive behaviour among coyotes should report it to the Conservation Officer Service.

Coyotes are still a predator and have bitten people in the past, but usually because they are trying to feed the animals.

“As long as we’re bigger than them and aggressive with them they don’t usually have anything to do with us,” said Richardson.

Urban coyotes mainly go after small prey, but when they are in amongst the neighbourhoods they may go after cats or a small dog. Therefore pet owners are urged to be mindful.

“This time of year because it’s so cold they are looking around for food.”

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jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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