Coyotes force dogs off some Golden Gate Park trails


Coyotes have been spotted in several San Francisco neighborhoods, including Bernal Heights, Glen Canyon, Twin Peaks and even near Lombard Street.

City officials say everyday somebody reports seeing a coyote. Nature photographer David Cruz spotted one Easter morning.

"Basically I could tell he was keeping an eye on the area, I was in his neighborhood, you know," Cruz said.

Cruz says the coyote had what he calls a "loving energy" but one dog owner says she and her pit bulls were stalked by a coyote in the park last week.

Tuesday and Wednesday 22 signs were posted barring dogs from areas thought to be near coyote territory.

"The coyotes have been stalking and following people, and baring their teeth and things of that nature, which is normal behavior for coyotes, especially when there is another dog," San Francisco Animal Care and Control Lt. Le-Ellis Brown said.

Especially, he says, during this time when pups are being born.

"They're basically trying to preserve and protect their babies," Brown said.

The city became aware of coyotes living among in San Francisco in 2007 when two were put down after an incident with a dog. Though city officials say they have not been a threat to humans, there was a community meeting last year after several sightings of the wild animals, leading to warning signs putting park users on alert.

As of Wednesday, dogs are prohibited from certain trails for their own safety. But the signs are so small, they are easy to overlook and getting owners to comply may not be easy.

Cruz shoots in the park every day and believes humans and coyotes can live together peacefully even in an urban setting.

"We're already co-existing and we are one with the coyote," Cruz said.

If dog owners choose to ignore the signs, they do so at their own risk and are violating park code. The trials are expected to be off-limits until August.

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