We are nearing the end of coyote mating season and several neighbors have reported sightings of coyotes in and around Alamo Square. Coyotes are not new or unique to San Francisco, and over the last several months coyotes have been spotted moving in packs late at night. A pack of three coyotes killed at least five outdoor cats on Seymour street, just two and half blocks north of the park.
We reached out to San Francisco Animal Care and Control to get more information about the San Francisco coyote population and how we can coexist safely.
Winter: During mating season, from December through February, San Francisco Animal Care & Control (SFACC) often receives reports of increased coyote activity throughout the City. This increase in sightings and encounters is due to coyotes searching for mates and mated pairs of coyotes searching for dens. SFACC works with SF Rec & Park on signage and barriers to decrease the chances for encounters between humans and coyotes.
Spring: From April throughout the fall coyotes are birthing and rearing their pups which makes them more protective and assertive. Preventing confrontations is the best policy. Keep your dogs on leash and keep your cats indoors. Coyotes will follow dogs being walked to 'escort' them from an area near their den. They may show their teeth, snarl, and nip at dogs to keep them moving away from their den. This is classic protective behavior and doesn't mean the coyote is vicious, but if you observe a coyote exhibiting this behavior- avoid the area and walk your dog elsewhere. Protective behavior near coyote dens is always associated with dogs.
Summer: In late summer to early fall coyotes disperse from their dens. Pups born earlier in the year disperse to look for their own territory. Many of the dispersing coyotes are hit and killed by cars. Coyotes are very visible during this time of the year and are often spotted in areas where they have not previously been seen.
If You Encounter a Coyote
- Walk away. Keep moving away from the coyote. Don’t run.
- Pick up small dogs and carry them if you see a coyote.
- Do not let your dog interact with a coyote. Do not allow dogs to chase coyotes.
- Keep your dog on leash – even in designated off leash areas – if coyotes are present.
- If a coyote approaches you – shout, wave your arms, stomp your feet. The goal is to startle the coyote and encourage them to move away. It is unlawful to harass or injure coyotes.
- Carry a cane/stick, an air horn or a whistle with you on walks.
- Never let a coyote come between you and your child or pet.
Tips If Your Block Has Coyotes
- Keep pets indoors, especially at night.
- Never feed a coyote. Feeding a coyote can put your family and your pets at risk as the animal learns to expect food and loses its natural fear of humans.
- Feed your pets indoors, or promptly remove outdoor food dishes when your pet finishes their meal.
- Secure garbage cans with a lid that fastens shut or a bungee cord, or keep garbage in an area that is secure from wildlife. Coyotes can tip garbage cans and obtain an easy meal, or prey on other animals that feed off garbage. Put garbage out the morning of your pickup to reduce the amount of time the cans are accessible.
- If a coyote is frequenting your neighborhood, let them know that they are not welcome. Make loud noises, squirt them with a hose or super-soaker, or pop a balloon. It’s important that coyotes stay wary of humans.
- Keep pets on leash at all times in areas frequented by coyotes. Keep a close eye on dogs when using a long, retractable leash.
- Pick ripe fruit off of trees, and pick up fruit that has fallen to the ground.
- Clean up around bird feeders. Spilled seed can attract vermin, that then attracts coyotes.
- Keep your yard neat. Overgrown yards can attract wildlife and vermin, and provide a comfortable place for animals to make dens and nests.
- If you observe a coyote frequenting a specific area in or near a yard or apartment, please call SFACC
(415) 554-9400. There may be someone intentionally feeding.