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Canadian folk singer killed by coyotes, park official says

Up-and-coming Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell was killed by coyotes, park officials say.
Up-and-coming Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell was killed by coyotes, park officials say.
  • Taylor Mitchell was at the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • Hikers saw coyotes attack Mitchell and called 911; she later died at a Halifax hospital
  • Park where attack occurred remains closed; coyote believed to be involved has been shot
  • Mitchell was nominated for Young Performer of the Year by Canadian Folk Music Awards

(CNN) -- A rising Canadian folk singer was killed by coyotes this week in a national park in Nova Scotia, a park spokesman said Thursday.

Taylor Mitchell, 19, was at the beginning of the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park on Tuesday afternoon when she was attacked, according to Chip Bird, the Parks Canada field unit superintendent for Cape Breton.

Bird said hikers saw the coyotes attacking Mitchell and called 911. She was airlifted to a hospital in Halifax, where she died about 12 hours later, he said.

Mitchell was recently nominated for Young Performer of the Year honors by Canadian Folk Music Awards. She was touring the Maritime provinces and had a break between gigs to go hiking Tuesday, her manager, Lisa Weitz, said in an e-mail.

"She loved the woods and had a deep affinity for their beauty and serenity," she wrote.

Map: Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • Folk Music
  • Nova Scotia
  • Canada

"Words can't begin to express the sadness and tragedy of losing such a sweet, compassionate, vibrant, and phenomenally talented young woman," Weitz said.

"Her warmth, loving nature, astounding artistry, and infectious enthusiasm will be so missed and forever remembered."

Read more about who Taylor Mitchell was

Mitchell, who was originally from the Georgian Bay area in Ontario, lived in Toronto, Weitz said.

Bird said the area where the attack occurred is popular and well traveled. It remained closed, and park authorities had shot one coyote believed to be involved. A pathologist will test the animal's body for diseases that might have triggered the attack, he said.

Searches for other aggressive animals in the park continue, he said.

"Public safety is our primary concern," he said.

He said no other coyote attacks had ever occurred in the park. "We've had coyotes approach people too closely," he said, and about six years ago one nipped a person.

That animal was killed because of "lack of fear," he said.

But Tuesday's attack is "unprecedented and a totally isolated incident," he said.

In a written statement, Emily Mitchell described her daughter as "a seasoned naturalist and well versed in wilderness camping. She loved the woods and had a deep affinity for their beauty and serenity. Tragically it was her time to be taken from us so soon.

"We take a calculated risk when spending time in nature's fold -- it's the wildlife's terrain," Emily Mitchell's statement continued. "When the decision had been made to kill the pack of coyotes, I clearly heard Taylor's voice say, 'please don't, this is their space.' She wouldn't have wanted their demise, especially as a result of her own. She was passionate about animals, was an environmentalist, and was also planning to volunteer at the Toronto Wildlife Centre in the coming months."

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Michael Johnston, Mitchell's producer for her debut album, "For Your Consideration," said the singer was a "brilliant and beautiful light that people were naturally drawn to."

"She was so young and talented. Her big dreams were a perfect match with her big, kind heart."

He said he and his family would soon be organizing a celebration of her life.

Coyote attacks on humans are extremely rare, said Michael O'Brien, wildlife manager of furbearers and upland game for Nova Scotia.

It is "not expected or normal behavior," he said, although he said there had been aggressive incidents in Nova Scotia before, but no deaths.

Illness, injury and familiarity with humans can affect an animal's behavior, he said.