Sunday, 10 May 2015

DEATH of a Folk Singer By Coyotes – Taylor Mitchell, CANADA

Promotional photograph of Taylor Mitchell
by James Dean Photography. Cropped | Wikipedia
Taylor was a seasoned naturalist and well versed in wilderness camping. She loved the woods and had a deep affinity for their beauty and serenity…

Taylor Josephine Stephanie Luciow, known by her stage name Taylor Mitchell, (August 27, 1990 – October 28, 2009) was a Canadian folk singer. She is the only adult person, and second person overall known to be fatally attacked by coyotes.

Mitchell was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She graduated from the Etobicoke School of the Arts with a major in musical theatre.

She started a tour of the Maritimes on October 23, 2009, and was to perform in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. She was scheduled to perform in Sydney, Nova Scotia on the night of her death.

After her death, her album For Your Consideration was made available for download at the iTunes Store.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. In the foregound, the Freshwater Lake. Behind it on the left, the South Bay Ingonish opens up to the Atlantic Ocean beyond the visible Cape Smokey.


Having some free time before her next concert, Mitchell, an environmentalist who enjoyed nature walks, went to Cape Breton Highlands National Park on the afternoon of October 27. At 2:45 a couple going in the opposite direction passed her near the beginning of the Skyline Trail. For an unknown reason, she doubled back after going a short distance along the trail and came back down the access road to the car park. It is possible a coyote was following her at this stage.

At 3.02, the couple, by this time on the access road to the car park, moved out the way of and photographed two coyotes that walked towards them along the road, going in the opposite direction. An expert later commented the photos showed the coyotes had an extraordinary lack of fear, with one having what verged on a dominant attitude toward humans. It is believed these coyotes encountered the oncoming Mitchell on the access road several minutes later, when the couple heard what they thought could be either animal noises or screams in the distance. They reported the noises by telephone at the car park

A group of four other hikers arrived in the carpark, where they heard about the possible screams in the distance from the couple. Several minutes walk along the access road they began to find personal items of Mitchell including keys and a small knife (believed to have been used by her in an attempt to defend herself as she was forced back up the access road and onto the Skyline trail). As the hikers turned into the clearing at the head of the trail, they saw torn pieces of bloodied clothing and a large amount of blood along the ground. A washroom in the clearing had blood on the door. At 3.25 they found Mitchell lying nearby among trees, with a coyote standing over her. It was only after repeated charges by the three young men that the coyote could be made to move away from her. She was conscious and able to speak with the rescuers. The coyote remained close by, growling and unafraid until a shotgun was fired at it by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who had arrived. Mitchell had been bitten over most of her body, with particularly serious wounds to her leg and head. She was taken to a hospital in Cheticamp, and then airlifted to Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in critical condition from the extreme blood loss she had suffered. She died just after midnight with her mother at her side.
Captive-bred F1 gray wolf-coyote hybrids,
Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minnesota | Source

It is estimated that there were five or six coyotes in that area of the park.  Eventually, a total of six coyotes were killed following the attack, but only three could be conclusively linked with the attack.

In an interview with The Gazette, Brad White, a coyote expert at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont. said they might have been coyote-wolf hybrids. However, Don Anderson a biologist with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources said he’s seen no reason to suspect the animals were coyote-wolf crosses. Don Anderson noted there are no wolves in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. Dr. Brent Patterson of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, however, concludes there is sufficient physical evidence that these coyotes were so-called “Eastern Coyotes”. Eastern Coyotes of the Canadian provinces, are distant hybrids of Canadian wolves and coyotes that go back generations when the Western Coyotes of the North American Plains regions of the Unites States, migrated to the Ontario region, and interbred with native wolves. This possibly instilled the dominance and aggressive behaviours displayed by the Cape Breton coyotes.

Stan Gehrt, a coyote expert at Ohio State University’s school of environment and natural resources suggested that the coyotes were rabid. This theory however, was proved to be invalid through post mortem examination conducted at the University of Prince Edward Island, of the six exterminated coyotes, three of which could be directly linked to the attack.

Bob Bancroft, a Nova Scotia wildlife biologist, suggested that the coyotes were inexperienced hunters – hungry and desperate yearlings – and that their predatory instinct was triggered by the singer fleeing instead of standing her ground. In The Gazette, Stan Gehrt thought this might be why the coyotes attacked: “Most canids (coyotes, foxes, and wolves) will attack prey that begin to run away from them. Maybe that’s what she did. Unfortunately, there are no witnesses.”

Mitchell was only the second fatal coyote attack on a human ever recorded in North America. The first occurred in the United States in August 1981, when 3-year-old Kelly Keen was attacked by a coyote outside her home in Glendale, California, United States.

In memory of Taylor Mitchell: The Prayers We Light

'The Prayers We Light', a deeply moving song written and performed by Taylor Mitchell, recorded live via web streaming at her last concert on October 25 2009 just 3 days before her tragic death at the age of only 19 (video extract courtesy "Squirrels in The Attic" house concerts, with special thanks to Maureen and Steve).

Source | Source

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