San Francisco's Presidio works to help coyotes co-exist with people, pets

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Encounters between coyotes and dogs are on the rise in San Francisco's Presidio, but a new program is already changing that.

The Presidio, in the middle of a big city, is in a unique position. They can't move coyotes out of the park because that's against the law and new ones would move right in.

They believe there are only six of them in the park right now since two of them, including one of this year's new pups, were killed by cars in the past two weeks.

The Presidio is launching a robust program, including awareness signs and a new tracking program to try to make sure that people, their pets, and the coyotes safely co-exist.

Never-before-seen footage of coyotes was captured on wildlife cameras in the Presidio, all part of a new monitoring program.

Jonathan Young is the Presidio's wildlife expert. He's been tracking the park's coyote population for the past year. "Trying to understand these animals, their movements, their use of the park, how many are here," he said.

A big reason for the program is increased concern about coyote interactions with people and dogs.

Young says they've had several dozen reports of encounters this spring and summer.

People who live in the Presidio are especially familiar with their sometimes nuisance neighbors. "Six months ago, my son was on our patio and a coyote came right up to him, pretty aggressively, chased him inside," Presidio resident Tim Moran said.

"It's kind of nerve wracking because you don't know if you're going to come across one," resident Allison Thompson said. "My neighbor's dog actually got attacked by a coyote when she was around their pups once."

Coyote pupping season is April through August-September, a time when coyote parents are extra protective of their new pups, seen in photos that motion sensor cameras snapped a few weeks ago.

"The coyotes' parental protective behavior overrides their fear of people trying to scare the coyote away because the coyote just wants the dog away from the pups," Young said.

Along with daily collar tracking, Young is using GPS monitoring to learn where the coyotes spend time, seen on the dotted maps. That information allows them to close parts of the Presidio, near areas the coyotes frequent like park and Bay Area ridge trails, which closed to dogs earlier this month.

"That created a buffer from where the pups were to where the dogs were and conflict subsided," Young said.

GPS also shows many of the coyotes actually leave the Presidio. The blue lines on this map show a 1-year-old coyote's journey south, where it was hit and killed by a car on 280 last year.

What to do if you encounter a coyote in the Presidio:

  • Keep your distance; do not approach the coyote
  • Keep your dog on a leash and under your control
  • Never attempt to feed a coyote
  • Exit the area immediately

What to do if a coyote is within 50 feet and does not move away:

  • Haze the animal to help it retain a fear of humans by being as big and loud as possible, shouting in a deep, loud and aggressive voice
  • Wave your arms and throw small objects toward the coyote (to scare, not injure)
  • Maintain eye contact, which makes the coyote uncomfortable and timid.
  • If the coyote continues to approach, do not run or turn your back, but continue to exaggerate the gestures while backing away slowly and leaving the area

Click here for more information on coyotes in the Presidio.
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