Wardens in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park were setting traps for coyotes Monday after one of the animals repeatedly bit a young woman in the head as she slept outdoors.
The attack occurred at a campground about 30 kilometres from the site where two coyotes mauled 19-year-old Toronto singer Taylor Mitchell last fall – causing wounds that led to her death in a Halifax hospital.
In the latest attack, a 16-year-old girl from Nova Scotia was fast asleep in her sleeping bag outdoors when she awoke at 4 a.m. with a searing pain at the top of her head.
Derek Quann, the park’s resource conservation manager, said that her screaming and swinging arms drove the coyote off after the animal had bitten her twice in the head.
“She was awakened by a sharp pain and something odd going on. She realized she was being bitten by a wild animal,” he said. “All the indications are that it was a single coyote. One coyote was seen by other people leaving the area.”
The girl’s parents were sleeping in a tent about three metres away in the popular camping area on the park’s eastern coast.
The teenager was sent to a nearby medical clinic where her head wounds were stitched and she received rabies shots. She was released early in the morning, and she and her parents departed the campground, said Mr. Quann.
“We’ve had incidents since last fall’s attack that involve coyotes chasing joggers and cyclists,” he said, estimating there were between six to 10 incidents since Ms. Mitchell’s death. He said there’s little indication the animals are starving or deprived of prey. Rather, said Mr. Quann, some animals appeared to have learned not to fear humans.
Park wardens are setting traps in an attempt to kill the coyote involved in the campground attack. It’s part of a strategy to trap and kill coyotes considered aggressive to humans. Mr. Quann estimated about eight to 10 animals have been killed since Ms. Mitchell’s death.
“Coyotes are intelligent animals. They lean and they pass on that learning, and we have to be careful that there isn’t an unacceptable level of aggression … towards humans,” Mr. Quann said.