12/06/2012 02:27 EST | Updated 02/05/2013 05:12 EST

Coyote hunting in Stanley Park raises concerns

A coyote hanging around parts of Stanley Park frequented by tourists is raising concerns with park officials.

The coyote has been spotted around Malkin Bowl and the Rose Garden, hunting squirrels.

While coyotes are naturally very timid creatures and generally not dangerous to people, Dan Straker of the Stanley Park Ecology Society is warning people to stay away.

“The concern is primarily that since it’s exposing itself so much during the day and a lot of people are seeing it, somebody might start feeding it,” said Straker.

Feeding the coyotes will teach the animals to be more comfortable around humans and that can lead to conflict. It’s important the coyote learns to be afraid of people, Straker said.

He's also concerned the coyote could try to make a meal out someone's pet as well.

"If this coyote was to take a small dog, then it would have to be destroyed," said Straker.

Coyotes mostly feast on rodents like rats, mice and squirrels, but they will also make use of other sources of food like garbage, compost and small pets if available.

Coyotes were first spotted in Vancouver in 1987. Straker estimates there are about 2,000 coyotes in the Lower Mainland with up to 300 living in Vancouver alone. About five or six live in Stanley Park.

Straker says the last attack on a human was three years ago in Coquitlam and a decade ago in Vancouver.