|Birth name||Taylor Josephine Stephanie Luciow|
August 27, 1990|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Origin||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Died||October 28, 2009
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
|Labels||Back Road Tavern Productions |
Taylor Mitchell (August 28, 1990 – October 28, 2009), was a Canadian folk singer and songwriter from Toronto. Her debut album, For Your Consideration received encouraging reviews and airplay. Following a busy summer performance schedule, which included an appearance as a young performer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Mitchell embarked on a tour of Eastern Canada with a newly acquired licence and car. She died, aged 19, of injuries inflicted by coyotes that had attacked her while she was walking in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Although coyotes were known to be capable of preying on large animals, they were thought to be apprehensive of people and not a serious threat. Mitchell's death was the first recorded fatality from an attack on an adult. It shocked experts and led to a reassessment of the risk to humans from coyotes' predation behaviour.
Mitchell was born and raised in Toronto. She became interested in performing by her mid teens, and after graduating from the Etobicoke School of the Arts with a major in musical theatre, decided on a career as a singer and songwriter, taking Mitchell as a stage name. Mitchell had released a four track EP in 2007, she independently released an album titled For Your Consideration in March 2009. In June 2009, she was invited to perform in the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Reaction from the roots music community and radio stations was positive, and she began working on new material. A contributor to the album, Justin Rutledge, later described Mitchell as having written beyond her years: "She didn’t provide answers, as so many of her age try to do. There was no preciousness about her. Instead she asked questions." To promote the album she went on a solo concert tour of the eastern coast Maritimes, beginning on October 23, 2009. A few days before her death, Mitchell was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award as Young Performer of the Year. Her last performance was in Lucasville, near Halifax; there were two days before her scheduled concert in Sydney.
A Californian 3-year-old killed in 1981 was the only known North American fatality from a coyote attack. In their original south west range, coyotes were primarily hunters of rodents. Coyotes expanded their range north and east, they arrived in eastern Canada in 1911 and reached Cape Breton Highlands National Park during the 1980s. Some biologists believe that expansions may be associated with evolution of new traits. In a study male eastern coyotes averaged a weight of 34 pounds; there is a verified case of two coyotes killing a female moose weighing over 400 lb. Widespread open seasons and bounties on coyotes led to them being avoidant, but in national parks, where hunting is forbidden, they could easily lose all fear of humans. In 2003, a teenage girl walking on the Skyline trail was bitten by a coyote, it was scared away by her parents. There were also reports of coyotes watching and following park visitors.
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.
There was speculation by wildlife experts that Mitchell might have initiated contact by trying to feed coyotes or by disturbing a den with young. Various other proposed explanations were the coyotes might have been wolf crosses, rabid, immature, starving or protecting a carcass. None of these suggestions were subsequently borne out, causing a reassessment of potential risk to humans from coyotes' predation behaviour. It was also thought by experts that Mitchell may have provoked an attack by running away, though a coyote may have been behind her when she was confronted by the oncoming ones.
As is standard practice when an animal remains at large after killing a human, wardens searched for the attacker animal in the vicinity, where five or six coyotes were believed to live. Mitchell's mother issued a statement saying that her daughter would not have wanted her death to result in the extermination of the coyotes.
Hours after the incident, while the trail was closed to the public, a female coyote that acted aggressively was killed by a warden keeping watch at the washhouse location. Three other animals were killed within a kilometer of the Skyline trail after being caught in leg-hold traps before a large (42 lb) male was similarly dispatched five kilometres away on November 14. Scientific investigation of the carcasses determined that three, including the first and last accounted for, were linked to the attack on Mitchell by her blood on their coats and other forensic evidence. The large male eastern coyote was found to have been both the dominant lead coyote photographed on the access road and the one found standing over Mitchell; coat markings in the photographs identified its carcass, which also contained pellets from the shotgun of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who fired while at the scene. The dead coyotes not linked to the attack may have been pack-mates of the attackers. The large male and the female may have been a breeding pair, both were related to the other attack-implicated coyote.
In mid November a coyote came up behind a couple walking in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, approaching so closely that the man hit it on the head with a walking stick. Park conservation managers and scientists opposed a general cull on the grounds that coyotes have the ability to reproduce quickly, and culling would be likely to have no impact, or the opposite of the desired effect. This reasoning assumes that animals removed from the local gene pool by a cull would have the same propensity to fear humans as those coyotes that avoided being caught and killed.  In April, Nova Scotia declared a $20 bounty on coyotes, but this did not apply within Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Visitors were asked to report encounters with coyotes. Ten months after Mitchell died, a 16-year-old girl camping with her parents in a Cape Breton Highlands National Park campground, was bitten twice on the head by a coyote. A scientific study found that though usually unseen, coyotes were often in proximity to humans. Individual coyotes that are not conditioned by nonlethal aversion measures and fail to avoid humans are killed.
Taylor Mitchell Legacy Trust
As a memorial, Mitchell's mother established the Taylor Mitchell Legacy Trust, which has a partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation. The trust promotes community outreach for musical/creative expression as well as educating on habitat preservation, the balance between human and wildlife interaction in both natural and urban settings, as well as safety precautions.
For Your Consideration
|For Your Consideration|
|Studio album by Taylor Mitchell|
|Genre||Folk, folk rock|
Mitchell's album For Your Consideration was released in March 2009. Guest musicians on the album included Justin Rutledge, Lynn Miles, Suzie Vinnick, John Dinsmore, and Michael Johnston. The album received a positive review from Exclaim!, with Eric Thom describing her as "definitively old school, if not world-weary", while Now Toronto describing it as sounding "like it comes from someone of a completely different generation".
- "Don't Know How I Got Here" – 4:08
- "For Your Consideration" – 3:13
- "Clarity" – 4:18
- "Ride Into the Sunset" – 4:14
- "Fun While It Lasted" – 3:41
- "Diamonds & Rust" (Joan Baez)– 4:06
- "Trick of the Light" – 5:00
- "Secluded Roads" – 3:51
- "Shelter from the Storm" – 4:31
- "Love and Maple Syrup" – 3:18
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