Presidio's interior trails closed to dogs as coyote pupping season begins

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The drizzly weather wasn't enough to keep runners and hikers off the secluded trails of San Francisco's Presidio Monday.

But whether it was the moisture or the messages placed along several trailheads, visitors with their dogs seemed to be mostly obeying the new rules that went into effect April 6.

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Park managers have closed a limited number of interior trails to dogs, in an effort to help head off confrontations as the coyotes are entering their pupping season.

"We want to thank everyone for really cooperating with the trail closure signage. When we need to close the trails to the dog walkers it' important to give the coyotes their distance," says Lisa Petrie of the Presidio Trust

On Friday, we brought you these pictures captured several months back by a security camera in the park. They showed the scuffle when a newly arrived Alpha Coyote couple were.

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Petrie says visitors can also get more information online pushing aside an existing alpha female, and laying claim to being the dominant hunters. And now that they've moved in, experts say the animals provide a critical service to the park.

"Coyotes are incredibly important for ecosystem health. They really love to consume things like gophers and rats. They control populations of pest species, like raccoons and skunks and possums and things like that," says Jonathan Young, a wildlife ecologist with the Presidio Trust.

Young says the Coyotes also live fragile lives in an urban environment, sometimes being hit by cars of facing other man-made stress. The park has seen a heavy influx of dog walkers since the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order. So keeping dogs off the marked trails qualifies as a different kind of social distancing. One that helps protect a valuable part of the Bay Area's eco-system at a challenging time for both human's and the Coyote.

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"And really, we hope people will come and enjoy the park. It's good for your health to be outdoors. It's just not good to get too close to each other and crowd the area, " says Petrie.

The trail warning to dog owners is expected to be in effect until fall. Visitors are encouraged to view maps and more information at www.presidio.gov/coyote.
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