SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – In San Francisco, a pair of coyote attacks on small dogs has sparked an alert for pet owners and a warning that wild animals are losing their fear of humans.
Signs are in place and trails are closed in Corona Heights Park in San Francisco. It’s coyote whelping season, and in San Francisco coyotes are not only tolerated, they have a safe place to breed.
“I was surprised there was an area here with an active coyote den in the first place,” said Judy Shon of Sunnyvale, who was visiting the park with a friend. “It’s quite interesting in the middle of a city.”
“I’m glad San Francisco still has wildlife,” said resident David Zandman. “I hope humans and wildlife can live in peace and not attack each other. I’m glad that SF is somehow allowing them to do their thing and keep residents safe at the same time.
That’s the sentiment of many San Franciscans: live and let live. But that’s not always how nature works.
Coyotes are predators, always looking for food, and as they lose their fear of humans, they have become bolder in killing small pets. Twice in one week, small dogs were snatched right in front of their owners who had momentarily let them go. One of the incidents happened at the corner of 14th and Castro, half a mile from the park. Sunday morning, Bobby DeBernardo and his little dog Joanne were chased into their house by a coyote.
“He noticed us, then he crossed the street, no problem, and started to approach. So we ran inside,” he said. “Yeah, he saw us and came over to us. It is not the first time.
Signs are posted around the park warning dog walkers to keep their pets on leashes and advising that small dogs be picked up and removed from the area. There are also numerous reminders not to feed the coyotes, a practice that makes them more comfortable around humans.
Andrew Davies snapped a picture of one of two coyotes staring at him and his dog Rufus, but said it was something he was willing to live with.
“Yeah, sure, there’s a balance to be maintained, but I just believe that every creature has at least as much right to be here as I do and I wouldn’t dream of taking them down or anything like that,” did he declare.
DeBernardo wonders if the city’s hands-off policy toward coyotes comes at the expense of those suffering the devastation of losing a beloved family member.
“I think it’s gone a bit too far – compassion – when they steal dogs, cats and pets,” he said. “I don’t think people without dogs realize what they mean to us.”
No one from SF Animal Care and Control would go on camera on Sunday, but they responded by email saying:
“Coyotes have become a fact of life across the country. There is no easy way to control them.
They also pointed out that the animals are protected under state law and only the Department of Fish and Wildlife can remove or relocate one.