'This is a serious problem': Coyote wanders dangerously close to toddlers in SF's Golden Gate Park

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There was a scare for two families at Golden Gate Park, when a coyote got dangerously close to babies this month. One mother says she swooped in and grabbed her child just in time.

A week and a half ago, San Francisco mom Laila O'Boyle, was at Golden Gate Park with her five-year-old and one-year-old twins, when they had an uncomfortably close encounter.

"I look over and I see a coyote is getting real close to my son," said O'Boyle.

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O'Boyle and her five-year-old made loud noises to scare away the coyote who had wandered onto a lawn in the Botanical Garden.

"The coyote immediately ran away - I thought. I grab my son and look at him, confirm he hasn't been touched, he's totally fine, he's not event crying. And I turned around and look back at my daughter and the coyote had immediately gone right over to her."

O'Boyle says the coyote was not acting particularly aggressive, but he was just a foot from her daughter and un-phased by all the park-goers who were yelling.

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"She immediately responded, she had a blanket in her hands, she went after the coyote and drove it off of her child," says Patrick Foy, a captain with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.



"She's way littler than that coyote," said O'Boyle, who added, "it did make me feel like it would have gone differently if I was not there."

Another San Francisco mom told ABC7 News reporter, Kate Larsen, that she was at Golden Gate Park the same day, and that the coyote charged at her 1.5 year old daughter. She says she had to dive towards her daughter to save her.

"This shouldn't have happened this many times," said O'Boyle, who is also concerned about the coyote populations' well being. "They are wildlife, this is their place. I don't want it to be that we take over everything, I find that really sad. I don't want it to become that there are no coyotes."

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Coyotes are not new to San Francisco - they live in parks throughout city. But, Virginia Donohue, executive director of San Francisco Animal Care and Control, says this coyote's recent behavior is new.

"We are very worried. This is not something a coyote should be doing, this goes against all natural coyote behavior."

Donohue says the male coyote has lived in San Francisco since 2016 and has lost his fear of humans because so many people have fed him over the years. "I can not stress enough that people need to stop feeding wildlife"

She says Animal Care and Control has been meeting with wildlife officials throughout the state to come up with a solution, since state law prohibits coyote relocation. "Clearly this is not safe for the kids, it's super alarming for the parents. If I were a parent, I would be terrified. We understand that this is a serious problem."

Meanwhile, SFACC says San Francisco Recreation and Parks has placed coyote warning signs throughout the Botanical Garden and employees are telling families to be on alert for the animals.

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