GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009

Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
Send us your stories, ideas, and information. Insiders welcome - confidentiality guaranteed.

stories along The Way

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Investigation into fatal coyote attack continues

A necropsy was completed on one of the two coyotes who attacked and killed Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell last week. The animal was found to be in good health all around but no information as to the contents of its stomach was released.

A great deal of the discussion about this incident centers on two areas - whether Ms. Mitchell was feeding the coyotes, and if the particular type of coyote had anything to do with the highly aggressive nature of the attack.

From the Chronicle-Herald's Nova Scotia edition:

Coyote wasn’t hungry or sick
Wild animal was in good health when it attacked Mitchell, necropsy shows

By LAURA FRASER Cape Breton Bureau (
Tue. Nov 3 - 4:45 AM

This barricade blocked traffic to the Skyline Trail entrance in Cape Breton Highlands National Park last week. (TERA CAMUS / Cape Breton Bureau)

Taylor Mitchell

Pathologists say that preliminary tests on one of the coyotes that killed a Toronto folksinger in Cape Breton last week found the animal’s aggression came from neither hunger nor disease. "The pathologists confirmed that the animal was in good health," Chip Bird, a superintendent with Parks Canada, said of the results from the necropsy at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island. "There is no evidence of physical injury, starvation or rabies."

Taylor Mitchell, 19, died after two wild coyotes attacked her while she was hiking alone in Cape Breton Highlands National Park last Tuesday. The singer-songwriter was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Halifax but died overnight from several bite wounds. Park wardens and conservation officers had expanded their search for the other coyote, Mr. Bird said Monday. They had not been able to find it, or its body, near the scene of the attack on the Skyline Trail. An RCMP member reportedly shot the animal last Tuesday, but it hobbled off. Park officials could not say whether it left a blood trail that could be followed. Trackers have started looking on the Fishing Cove and Benjies Lakes trails in the Cape Breton Highlands. They have spotted other animals, but none have shown aggression or a lack of fear of humans.

Mr. Bird could not say whether human food had been found in the coyote’s stomach. Feeding wild animals can cause them to lose their fear of people. Anyone caught feeding wildlife in the park may be given a warning by a park ranger, but if the problem persists, someone could be fined or charged. "A fed animal is a dead animal, because eventually they will get into trouble," Mr. Bird said. Since Ms. Mitchell’s attack, Mr. Bird said that he has received calls from others who have had encounters with aggressive local coyotes. Those stories and the recent tragedy will likely force Parks Canada to make some changes to the warnings they give the public about animals. Signs now warn visitors about moose or bear, but Mr. Bird said that information about coyotes will also be given to the public. The Skyline Trail stayed closed Monday. Mr. Bird could not say when it would reopen. The RCMP could not be reached for comment.