Tucked within the picturesque boundaries of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, tourists gather to marvel at three iconic churches and soak in the charming coastal vistas. Recent events, however, have directed the locals’ gaze elsewhere – towards an influx of coyotes whose ever-increasing presence is becoming a point of concern.
The Bay to Bay trail, popular amongst these four-legged predators, has become an escalating cause for worry. According to Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewables (DNR), there has been a surge in reports of aggressive encounters with these canids.
Andrew Boyne, DNR’s Director of Wildlife, confirms, “We’ve been receiving these complaints for quite a few months now.” Incidents range from a coyote tailing a solitary walker to a more menacing encounter of five coyotes converging on a pet owner on a routine walk with their dog.
In an effort to curb the rising menace, the DNR has initiated trapping measures to euthanize the offending animals, eliciting a diverging spectrum of public sentiment. Mahone Bay Mayor David Devenne shares, “The opinion that was being expressed was concern for the well-being of the animal who was maybe caught in the leg hold traps or was going to be exterminated. I mean we are the interlopers here.”
Boyne reiterates the importance of public safety as the province’s topmost priority, followed closely by animal welfare. Asserting that these extreme measures are a last resort, he insists, “We have a process of evaluation for every human interaction and this one was significant enough that it triggered us engaging in what we call an aggressive wildlife trapper to come in and try to trap the animals. This happens very rarely.”
So far, two of these resourceful predators have been caught and euthanized under the new measures. However, not everyone agrees with this plan of action. Bob Bancroft, a biologist and president of Nature Nova Scotia, argues that there needs to be balance and coexistence rather than resorting to such drastic solutions. Even a local trail association had hoped to educate the public about the coyotes, instead of eradicating them.
“It would’ve been better if people had been informed before that the decision was going from awareness and education to actually eliminating animals,” Bancroft adds illustratively. The debate between human safety and animal conservation reverberates along the picturesque coasts of Mahone Bay, underlining the complexity of finding sustainable solutions.