Taylor Mitchell

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Taylor Mitchell
Alg taylor mitchell.jpg
Taylor Mitchell
Background information
Birth name Taylor Josephine Stephanie Luciow[1]
Born (1990-08-27)August 27, 1990[2]
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Origin Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died October 28, 2009(2009-10-28) (aged 19)
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Genres Folk
Occupations Singer–songwriter
Instruments Vocals, Guitars
Years active 2006–2009
Labels Back Road Tavern Productions [3]
Website TaylorMitchell.ca

Taylor Mitchell (August 28, 1990 – October 28, 2009), was a Canadian folk singer and songwriter from Toronto. 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 from coyotes' predation behaviour.


Mitchell was born and raised in Toronto. She graduated from the Etobicoke School of the Arts with a major in musical theatre, and decided on a career as a singer and songwriter, taking Mitchell as a stage name. After releasing a four track EP in 2007, Mitchell had independently released an album titled For Your Consideration in March 2009.[4][5] In June 2009, she was invited to perform in the Winnipeg Folk Festival.[6] A few days before her death, Mitchell was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award as Young Performer of the Year.[7][8][9]

She started a tour of the eastern coast Maritimes on October 23, 2009, and was to perform in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.[4][9][10]

Park background[edit]

Primarily hunters of rabbits and other small mammals, coyotes are known for avoiding proximity to humans or being seen by them. A Californian 3-year-old killed in 1981 was the only known North American fatality from a coyote attack.[11] Cape Breton Highlands National Park was inhabited by the relatively large Eastern Coyotes. In a study males averaged a weight of 34 pounds. Coyotes were known to regularly prey on white-tailed deer. Although a rare occurrence, moose were also taken; there is a verified case of two coyotes killing a female moose weighing over 400 lb.[12][13]

About a hundred coyotes lived in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, usually in a family based unit of three or more animals. They became habituated to people by the thousands of nature-loving visitors, and due to the ban on hunting and trapping in the park, the coyotes had no reason fear humans. This was exacerbated by visitors who ignored a ban on feeding wildlife. Four coyotes were destroyed by park authorities prior to 2009, three for bold behaviour, one for nipping the arm of a young woman who had been feeding it. However, coyotes were generally seen as having an innate fear of humans. Accordingly, reports of coyotes watching and following park visitors were not assumed to be related to predatory instincts.[9][14]

Fatal attack[edit]

Having some free time before her scheduled performance, 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.[9]

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.[9]

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 retreated back up the road). At a clearing at the end of the access road they found a trail of blood and torn pieces of bloodied clothing. A washroom in the clearing had a 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 and unafraid until a shotgun was fired at it by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who had arrived.[15][16] 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 early the next day with her mother at her side.[1][9]


The unprecedented attack caused some early speculation by wildlife experts that Mitchell may 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.[9][17][18][19]

If an animal remains at large after killing a human, standard practice is for wardens to destroy all members of the attacker animal's species in the vicinity.[9] Mitchell's mother issued a statement saying that her daughter would not have wanted her death to result in the extermination of the coyotes.[20]

The trail was closed to the public after the incident, that evening a female coyote was destroyed by a warden keeping watch at the washhouse location. Four other animals were destroyed 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 4. 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, apparently the offspring of the two other attacker eastern coyotes, 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 destoyed coyotes not linked to the attack may have been pack-mates of the attackers.[9][14][15][16][18][19]

One expert who familiarised himself with all the known facts in the case concluded that the coyotes involved had lost all fear of humans. [9] 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 large scale tracking study found that though usually unseen, coyotes in search of food scraps were often in proximity to humans. Nonlethal aversion measures such as air horns are used to condition fear, but those coyotes not avoidant of humans in the park are destroyed.[21][22][23]

For Your Consideration[edit]

For Your Consideration
Studio album by Taylor Mitchell
Released March 2009
Genre Folk, folk rock
Length 40:40
Label self-released

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.[24] 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".[5][24]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Don't Know How I Got Here" – 4:08
  2. "For Your Consideration" – 3:13
  3. "Clarity" – 4:18
  4. "Ride Into the Sunset" – 4:14
  5. "Fun While It Lasted" – 3:41
  6. "Diamonds & Rust" (Joan Baez)– 4:06
  7. "Trick of the Light" – 5:00
  8. "Secluded Roads" – 3:51
  9. "Shelter from the Storm" – 4:31
  10. "Love and Maple Syrup" – 3:18

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Coyotes kill Toronto singer in Cape Breton". CBC.ca. 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  2. ^ "CDbabay.com profile". Retrieved 2009-12-08. 
  3. ^ iTunes Store. "For Your Consideration". Retrieved 2009-12-08. 
  4. ^ a b Aulakh, Raveena (2009-10-28). "Toronto singer killed by coyotes". The Star. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  5. ^ a b Boles, Benjamin (March 17–14, 2009). "Disc Review: Taylor Mitchell - For Your Consideration (Independent)". NOW Toronto. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  6. ^ "Coyotes kill Toronto singer". London Free Press. 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  7. ^ "Cape Breton coyote attack kills touring folk singer". CTV.ca. 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  8. ^ "Toronto singer killed by coyotes". The Globe and Mail. 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j National Geographic Channel, Attack In The Wild: Coyote Mystery (documentary)
  10. ^ "Coyote attack silences emerging Toronto talent". CBC.ca. 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  11. ^ A History of Urban Coyote Problems, Robert M. Tim & Rex O. Baker, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, 2007
  12. ^ CBC news, Oct 24, 2013, Coyotes are moose killers, study finds retrieved 24/8/14
  13. ^ Nova Scotia Canada (government)Frequently Asked Questions about Eastern Coyote in Nova Scotia retrieved 22/8/14
  14. ^ a b Explore magazine, 22Feb 2010, When coyotes attack
  15. ^ a b Elizabeth Royte (2008-02-08). "Canis Soup". Live Bravely Outside. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  16. ^ a b "Killed by Coyotes". National Geographic. [dead link][dead link]
  17. ^ "Killed by Coyotes?". 18 February 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  18. ^ a b "Coyote attacks on humans extremely rare: Experts". The Gazette. 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  19. ^ a b Alison Auld, Cape Breton News: Coyotes kill teen folk singer in Cape Breton park (local comments by local readers), last updated at 12:10 AM on 29/10/2009
  20. ^ NYT, Nov1 2009, Mother of Canadian Singer Killed by Coyotes Asks That the Animals Be Spared
  21. ^ the Star.com canada, Tue Aug 10 2010, Teenage girl attacked by coyote as she slept in Cape Breton
  22. ^ CTV news, January 9, 2012, Study launched to reduce coyote encounters in C.B. park Retrieved 25/814
  23. ^ CBC news, Jul 25, 2012, Study shows coyotes stay close to people
  24. ^ a b Thom, Eric (2009) "Taytlor Mitchell For Your Consideration", Exclaim!, June 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2013

External links[edit]