Local wildlife photographer Ron Wilson is sharing a hair-raising experience as a warning to others who enjoy taking in the great outdoors and may sometimes forget the threat from wildlife because it’s often quiet, but always very real.
This cautionary tale began Saturday afternoon when Ron and his buddy Dave decided to take a bike ride down Thunder Road to see if there was any wildlife around to snap as impromptu subjects for Ron’s outstanding photos.
They hadn’t been down this particular road this year, so the pair were pleased that not far along the trek, they spotted one coyote in a field.
“After taking a few pics, while I was putting my camera away, Dave decided to continue along,” Ron recounted to the Trail Times. “But not long after, all I heard was him yelling and screaming along with blowing his horn — we both have car horns on our bikes so they are fairly loud — and then there was silence.”
Getting on his bike and not knowing what he might find, Ron started heading towards Dave.
“And then there was another coyote coming towards me along the road, which I thought would go off the road before we got together,” Ron explained. “But as we passed each other he turned and started to chase me along the road.”
Ron started to yell and honk his bike horn, but the coyote appeared unfazed. Ron says when he looked back, there was the wild canine, at his back wheel.
“After he stopped chasing me, I caught up to Dave. He said that when he was riding and looked back to see if I was coming, there was the coyote at his back wheel chasing him.”
The men surmise that the animal may have come out of the bushes from the side of the road.
”We put some rocks in our pockets and headed back to the main road without any more problems,” Ron said. “We figure there may be a den close by so maybe there should be some kind of warning to people, walkers or riders, using this road for a while.”
The best advice the Trail Times received regarding the potential for human-wildlife interaction in this region came from Sharon Wieder, a former community coordinator with Rossland-Trail WildSafeBC.
“Always be at the ready and aware, assume they are always there.”
Wieder made this comment several years ago following cougar sightings in the Warfield area, but her advice is timely every day of the year for any type of wildlife.
Regarding the Canis latrans species, WildsafeBC advises, “Coyote attacks on people are rare in B.C. but they can perceive pets on and off leash as a potential threat or prey.”
To avoid conflict:
Make yourself appear large, maintain eye contact and speak in a low firm voice or shout;
Wave your arms and if you have a walking stick or gardening implement such as a rake or shovel, be prepared to use it as a weapon against the coyote;
Throw rocks, sticks or other objects in the animal’s vicinity;
If the coyote attacks, deliver a series of blows either with your feet or a sturdy stick at the animal’s ribs and stomach;
Bear spray can also be used in the event of an attack;
Do not run or turn your back to it as this may trigger an attack;
Pick up small pets and children immediately; older children should stay close and not try to run away;
If the coyote continues to approach, do not run or turn your back on it, continue looking large and making noise while you slowly retreat. Move towards more people or into your home or vehicle.