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Coyote cull begins following attack

A coyote cull is now underway in the area where a Summerland woman was attacked by three of the animals on Wednesday.

One male coyote was culled Friday morning and the effort to deal with more of the animals is ongoing.

"The fact that they packed up and acted as aggressively as they did toward her is of concern, because normally they will just shy off by someone yelling or shooing them off," said conservation officer Jim Beck. 

Beck said he was alerted to the situation on Wednesday, when a friend of Sarah James, the woman who was attacked, called.

James had been walking a friend's labradoodle on the Summerland Centennial Trail, when she was surrounded by three coyotes.

The man told Beck the attack had occurred and that he was providing basic care to her.

The injuries were defensive, which eliminated health concerns, said Beck.

He had a follow up conversation with James Wednesday evening  and another today, Friday, to see how she was doing and to inform her one coyote had been taken out in close proximity to where the attack took place. 

James, whose coat was torn up and left hand injured during the incident, has been recovering at home since it happened.

Beck went Wednesday and Thursday to the trail, but did not find any of the animals.

On Friday, he found the one and culled it humanely, he said.

If a couple more are taken out in close proximity, he feels that will take care of the problem.

"Once you take out one or more of the group, you change the dynamic," he said.

Beck recalls going out to the same area about five or six years ago when coyotes were killing sheep.

Last year, aggressive coyotes were dealt with in Penticton. A woman was also bitten at the mine site in Princeton in 2012.

In 2013, there have been two coyote attacks in Kamloops, he said.

There continues to be a healthy population of the animals in the South Okanagan, and according to Beck, most of the coyote issues that take place involve people walking their dogs, smaller dogs in particular.

How to stay safe:

As far as safety measures, he advises keeping pets on leashes and walking with a walking stick to defend pets.

A number of stores also carry small cans of pepper spray that can be used very effectively.

Lastly, he suggests acting assertively, such as speaking in a loud voice, rather than turning around and running away from the animals.

"I don't want people to think just because they see a wild animal they should be afraid of it," he said. "They need to be respectful of the distance between them and any animal and instill fear in them. The worst thing that can happen is people treat them as domestic animals."

 

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