If you walk with your dog in Golden Gate Park you may already have noticed the closed trails. It is mating season for the coyotes and Animal Care & Control is reporting a pair of coyotes protecting their den and newborn pups not far from the bison enclosure. Coyote mating season (and subsequent pup rearing) occurs between April and August and leads the coyotes to be more protective and sometimes aggressive. Watch for more signs to let you know where to avoid until the season passes.
This problem is not limited to Golden Gate Park, where the high profile incidents have taken place, including coyotes threatening dogs being walked on leash. As we reported in Bay Woof last month there have been repeated sightings of coyotes in The Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Bernal Heights, Glen Canyon Park, Diamond Heights, Twin Peaks, McLaren Park and Lake Merced. Staying away from known coyote activity areas is the first thing to do, but what should you do if an encounter does take place? San Francisco’s Animal Care & Control has the following advice:
• Never feed a coyote. Feeding a coyote can put your family and your pets at risk as the animal learns to expect food and loses their natural fear of humans.
• If you encounter a coyote, ‘vex’ them. Make loud noises, throw something (not to hit, but to frighten), wave your arms – it’s important that coyotes stay wary of humans.
• Keep dogs on leash – and avoid active coyote areas when walking them.
• Never leave small children unattended – and avoid taking children to active coyote areas.
Coyotes are shy animals and aggression is usually associated with protecting pups. Project Coyote, a non-profit project of the Earth Island Institute, aims to promote educated coexistence between people and coyotes. To promote peaceful sharing of parks and wild spaces they offer educational programs all over the country and information at their website projectcoyote.org. Project Coyote is working with the Animal Control & Welfare Commission to develop a plan for coyote management in San Francisco.