Coyote pups are on the prowl

If you’ve seen a coyote in The City, you’re not the only one.

The population of the four-legged creatures in San Francisco has grown to roughly two dozen from fewer than five last summer, according to wildlife officials.

Once confined to the Presidio, coyotes have now been sighted in neighborhoods such as Diamond Heights, Glen Park, Twin Peaks and Bernal Heights, said Vicky Guldbech of Animal Care and Control. On Wednesday morning, officials from Animal Care and Control were dispatched to a coyote sighting in the Sunset district.

Guldbech said her department gets at least one call each day regarding a coyote sighting, and that total could soon increase now that “pupping season” is complete. According to the California Department of Fish and Game’s Web site, coyotes usually begin the breeding process in February or March, with pups typically born 60 days after conception.

Recently, some residents have complained about coyotes refusing to leave them and their pets alone, despite repeated attempts to scare off the animals, Guldbech said.

“If a coyote approaches you it’s pretty unnerving,” Guldbech said. “It may seem a bit unnatural, but we keep telling people if they really assert themselves the coyotes will go away.”

The issue of aggressive coyote behavior came to head this May in the Presidio.

Residents of the park complained that one coyote was continually harassing and attacking their pets, Presidio Trust spokesman Clay Harrell said. The coyote was humanely killed, he said.

That coyote’s death came roughly 10 months after officials from the California Department of Fish and Game shot two coyotes in Golden Gate Park. Those coyotes were killed for repeatedly attacking dogs in and around the park.

Normally docile creatures, coyotes lose their natural fear of humans when they habituate in urban populations, said Mary Fricke of Fish and Game.

As a way to raise awareness of the burgeoning coyote population, which is on the increase mainly because of breeding, several local agencies are posting signs where coyote sightings have been reported, Recreation and Park Department spokesman Elton Pon said.

Outreach efforts also are under way to implore city residents to refrain from feeding the animals and to keep their pets on a leash, Pon said.

The issue of coyotes will also be discussed today at 5:30 p.m. during the Commission of Animal Control and Welfare meeting at City Hall. The commission is expected to give updated numbers about the number of coyotes in The City.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Curbing encounters

Some tips to cut down on human-coyote conflicts

    * Do not feed coyotes
    * Secure garbage containers
    * Feed pets indoors whenever possible
    * Don’t leave small children unattended outside if coyotes have been frequenting the area
    * Don’t allow pets to run free
    * Keep pets indoors at night
    *  Walk your dog on a leash and accompany your pet outside, especially at night
    * If you start seeing coyotes around your home or property, chase them away by shouting, making loud noises or throwing rocks

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

My Story

“I’ve actually never seen a coyote in San Francisco, and I’ve lived here nearly my whole life.”

Samuel Smith, retired San Francisco resident

“If I did see one I would certainly be startled and probably gawk a bit at it. If it was just it and I, I might be a little unnerved. It all depends on the situation, and how the coyote is reacting.”

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