Coyotes caught on camera fighting at the Presidio now facing crowds during COVID-19 shelter-in-place

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's Presidio recently had a new pair of alpha coyotes claim dominant status in the park after they were caught on camera fighting with a member of the previous regime.

"Yeah, we had coup d'etat if you will, a new alpha pair came and took over and kicked out the old alpha pair," says Presidio Wildlife Ecologist Jonathan Young.

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But the new alphas will rule over an increasingly crowded Presidio landscape. Since the COVID shelter-in-place, the winding trails and idle golf course have become a go-to refuge for neighbors and more importantly their dogs. For the next few weeks or months, that's potential trouble.

Young monitors an area that's the traditional pupping ground for the coyote, who give birth in their sheltered dens.

"And if there's a dog present, the coyotes are aware of that, and coyotes have a protective parental instinct to get those dogs away from the den," he explains.

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So now, Young and his team are placing warning signs at the entrances of several popular interior trails letting visitors know they're now off-limits to dogs, starting April 6 through the fall. It's all in an effort to head off dangerous confrontations that have happened around the Bay Area in places like the Presidio and Golden Gate Park.

"And if a dog is in this area the chances of conflict is higher. So if you avoid these areas that are clearly labeled with signage, the chances of conflict between a dog and a coyote are going to be significantly reduced," says Young.

He points out the marked trails are still open to humans, and non-marked trails can still be used with dogs. And long-time neighbors we ran into gave us the best advice for spring.

"Keep your distance I would say," said one.

And if you do, you'll be doing your dog, and two of the Presidio's newest residents a big favor.

The Presidio has links with maps and more information at: www.presidio.gov/coyote.
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