Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo

Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo

SF to study, haze coyotes amid increased sightings and attacks

Increased coyote sightings and attacks on pets in San Francisco have prompted city officials to begin hazing and possibly tracking the wild animals.

Members of the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee pledged to respond to residents’ concerns Thursday following recent confrontations between coyotes and pets in the Ingleside Terraces and Balboa Terrace neighborhoods, as well as Stern Grove.

No one is certain how many coyotes exist in San Francisco, but there have been 69 sightings reported so far this year.

“I do not want to have to be afraid that my cats are going to be killed just because I don’t put them on a leash. This is crazy,” said Ingleside resident Daniel Curzon-Brown. “It cannot continue as it is right now. We are having members of our family mangled and eaten.”

Virginia Donahue, executive director of San Francisco Animal Care and Control, said she has requested up to $40,000 in the upcoming mayor’s budget to for educational materials and to purchase hazing instruments to condition the coyotes to be scared of people.

“In Ingleside Terraces we believe that the coyotes have become way too comfortable,” said Donahue. “We would like to work with residents to try some advanced hazing methods.”

Such methods include water sprinklers activated by motion sensors, noise shakers, Super Soaker water guns and whistles.

City officials say they are prohibited from relocating the animals and would only turn to killing coyotes under extreme circumstances.

“We would be better off scaring the coyotes we have then killing them and having a new group move in,” Donahue said.

Coyotes were last seen in San Francisco in 1925 but started to reappear in the early 2000s and have since become more prevalent.

The department does pick up dead coyotes, a number which has fluctuated, with 11 in 2013, three in 2014 and four in 2015, but much remains unknown about the creatures.

The Presidio is launching a study “to shed some light on these mysterious animals,” said Jonathan Young, Presidio Trust’s wildlife ecologist.

The study will count the coyotes, identify each one with tags, place GPS collars on them that fall off after one year, assess their health and analyze their diets.

The park hopes to identify dens to avoid conflicts since coyotes will ward off dogs. Park officials also plan to engage in “hazing,” like using paint balls to use pain to condition the coyotes to stay away from humans and also to identify them.

“These animals are here to stay,” Young said. “Our main goal is to minimize conflict.”

Supervisor Norman Yee, who called Thursday’s hearing and represents the areas of many recent coyote incidents, said he thought The City should partner with the Presidio for the study. Donahue agreed to pursue that option.

“It’s time for The City to put some resources into this to start addressing this more aggressively,” Yee said.animalsBoard of Supervisorscoyote attackscoyotesNorman YeePoliticsPresidioPresidio TrustSan Francisco

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