“Even I Need Help!!”

2015-10-22 at 09-04-57

Hi Janet —

We have been busy with our programs and especially our school visits!

I wanted to share with you a few pictures of some 5th graders who have made Urban Coyote posters in order to share with others the important roles that coyotes play in our urban communities.

My favorite is one of a young boy who turned his coyote into a super hero! (There is a rat in the corner since we talk with the children about coyotes in the food chain and how they eat rats- which keeps the population down).

So far we have visited several classes with our Urban Wildlife lesson and have been able to share with them many great facts on coyote and the importance of leaving them alone and making sure dogs are leashed. It’s been really fun and the students seem to be really getting the message.

Thank you again for all you do! I hope you enjoy the pictures!


[Kat D’Anjou is a Humane Education Educator at the San Francisco SPCA. We met briefly to exchange ideas and information. Her HEART program (Human Educators Advocating Responsible Thinking) conducts classroom visits and summer camps to help students develop and express compassion, kindness, respect and generosity towards all animals.]

San Francisco’s Coyote Population

After his

After his “sentry” duty on a hilltop during the wee hours of the morning before walkers arrived, this coyote stretches and then heads into the bushes to sleep during the day.

Just because the City doesn’t have a lot of information about San Francisco coyotes doesn’t mean that the information doesn’t exist. I myself have been observing and documenting coyote behavior in San Francisco over the last 9 years.*  I am rewriting this posting from questions I received on the Stern Grove Dog Owners’ Group site, where there has been a lot of questioning and apprehension by dog owners about our coexistence policy and about a general lack of information regarding San Francisco coyotes.  I hope it answers some basic questions.

POPULATION NUMBERS: Based on my observations, I would say that coyotes in San Francisco number in the dozens, not in the 100s. Their numbers here and elsewhere are limited by their territoriality: they exclude outsider coyotes from their territories, and their territories must be big enough to support them and their families — this has been estimated to be about a square mile per coyote, or 2 to 4 square miles per family as noted by Professor Stan Gehrt in Chicago, and coyote families fluctuate between 2 and 5 coyotes. Even if they needed 1/2 this amount of space, you can see that SF’s 49 square miles isn’t going to become overrun with coyotes.

POPULATION GROWTH. Within their established family territories, which include nearly all the parks, coyote numbers have not been increasing over the last six or so years. Rather, the number of coyotes has been fluctuating from about 2 to 5 and then back down again — it depends on what is happening interpersonally within the one resident family which lives in that claimed and exclusive territory — most parks or golf-courses have only one family with family-size in continual flux but stable over time. This is what I’ve observed.

And I don’t think there’s a sudden population “explosion” going on right now in San Francisco. This year I’ve seen small, including one-pup, litters. The drought might be playing a role in the low survival of pups. And also remember that under normal circumstances, survival rates for coyote pups within their first year of life is only around 30%.

The coyotes’ chief “predator” in the city is cars. There have been lots of coyote deaths-by-cars in San Francisco. I’ve seen or been told about them on Mansell Street (off of McLaren), on Portola, on O’Shaughnessey, on Sloat by the zoo, on Marview below Twin Peaks, on Lake Merced Avenue, etc. Professor Stan Gehrt in Chicago thinks cars are what kills most urban coyotes. Besides cars, malnutrition and disease end lives in the city, as in rural areas. But in rural areas thousands lose their lives through brutal hunting and shooting. The city is actually a sanctuary for them, but even in a city few coyotes live out their full potential life-span.

DISPERSAL. I’ve observed that coyotes disperse throughout the year, depending on interpersonal family dynamics and resources: I myself have never noticed a set “dispersal season”, and at this early autumn time of year, when coyote pups are only 6 months old, it would be too early for them to disperse anyway. I’m troubled by claims from the city about a “dispersal season” being the reason for more sightings right now. Coyote specialists I’ve spoken to, including Jon Way, corroborate my own observations that coyotes disperse throughout the year. I hope we can clear up the misinformation out there.

The “extra” coyotes, in time, will move out of the city or fill vacant niches: they appear to have their own built-in GPS systems, like migrating birds — coyotes who are relocated can find their way back, and those who leave on purpose can find their way out of the city. For those who don’t leave the city, vacant niches might be found in smaller parks, and maybe even in areas in some neighborhoods: you can prevent the latter by creating disturbances, and by eliminating the foods that attract them, whether it is dog food, raccoons, skunks, rats or even free roaming cats. Rather than move into neighborhoods, they are more likely simply to trek through, doing their job of balancing the environment by eliminating excess rats and other rodents, most of which they do when it’s dark outside. Remember that their territories must be big enough to support them, and their territorial boundaries do not overlap: if there are a number of sightings in an area, it will likely be the same coyotes over and over again which are being seen.

Always and everywhere, the main issue with coyotes is pets. So keep small pets out of harm’s way by supervising them and not allowing them to roam free. Keep larger pets leashed when you see a coyote — coyotes and dogs do not get along. Please watch the online video “Coyotes As Neighbors”, which can be Googled, and look for additional pertinent coyote guidelines at CoyoteCoexistence.com.


Urban Coyote Myth: Coyotes Luring Dogs to Their Deaths, Explained. . . by Mary Paglieri

People’s interactions with urbanized coyotes have given birth to several myths over the years. These stories start from subjective interpretations of observations people make of coyote behavior interpreted through the lens of personal beliefs, biases and the deep-seated evolutionary fear of predators, and have no basis in reality or scientific fact. Which brings to mind a quote by Anais Nin: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

One of my all-time favorites is the story that has been repeated over and over again about how a single coyote intentionally lures unsuspecting dogs away from their homes to become a meal for a hungry pack of coyotes that are waiting to devour it. Another popular version of the myth is that it’s a female coyote in heat that intentionally targets and lures male dogs away to be eaten.

I can understand the mechanism by which these myths can start: through lack of knowledge of animal behavior, specifically, how dogs and coyotes interact. Most times, animal behaviors have simple, uncomplicated explanations and it is important to objectively evaluate that natural behavior, if we are to gain an understanding of how to peacefully and safely coexist with wildlife that are sharing the environment with us.

So, what appears to be “sinister” motivations on part of the coyote is simply this:

1. A coyote investigates another canid (dog) in the neighborhood. Younger coyotes are more curious about new things in their environment. Alpha coyotes will also investigate if there is another canid (dog) in their environment to determine whether it’s a threat. Close encounters, interactions and direct eye contact is made.

2. Dogs are also curious about other canids such as coyotes, and the dog will sometimes follow/chase the coyote as it returns back into the woods/hills.

3. The dog at that point may encounter other coyote family members because young coyotes and alphas sometimes travel together – a natural behavior of social canids.

4. The dog entering the coyote’s domain may then be interpreted as an “intruder.” Either as a competitor over resources, or as a threat to their offspring if there are pups around (or the dog becomes defensive like in the video of the dog and wolves that was posted earlier).

5. An altercation ensues with the dog. Depending on the size and strength of the dog, it can either be injured or killed. Severity of the attack is also dependent on the coyotes’ risk/benefit assessment. During such altercations, coyotes are injured as well – and sometimes, nothing happens…

Traditionally, urban myths and legends always have a moral. The moral of this story is to have the proper fencing to keep your dogs confined to their yards and to keep them on a leash when walking them in areas known to have coyotes.

There are many instances where people have had their larger dogs run off and intermingle with coyotes without incident, as well as times where large dogs have chased down and killed coyotes.


Mary Paglieri,
Human – Animal Conflict Consultant,
Behavioral Ecologist,

Multilingual Outreach Has Been On Our Agenda Since Our Inception

My field-research and advocacy site, CoyoteYipps, and the educational outreach organization I co-founded, CoyoteCoexistence.com, to date, are and have been the only organizations in San Francisco to provide multi-lingual information and guidelines about coyotes to our diverse communities — this outreach has been part of our agenda since our inception. We’ve worked hard to reach those who are not comfortable speaking English, providing information in videos, posters and flyers to those who find it easier to speak Chinese and Spanish. Our goal has always been to reach everyone, and we are proud to be the leaders in this direction.







These signs above were created and put up on bulletin boards in some of the parks at the request of various San Francisco communities years ago — no other outfit concerned with coyotes, including the city, offers any information in any language other than English here in San Francisco. Now, these signs may be accessed and downloaded from the “Downloadable Flyer” sections in the sidebars of this website and of the coyotecoexistence.com website.

2015-10-13 at 21-50-16Our videos, too, are and have been available in English, Spanish and Chinese for over a year. They may be accessed through the links at the top of this website, and at the top of the CoyoteCoexistence.com website.

In addition to our downloadable multi-lingual flyers (accessible from the sidebars of this site and of the coyotecoexistence.com site), at CoyoteCoexistence.com we have folks on hand who speak a variety of languages, and if your language is not spoken among us, we will find someone to help us understand and solve your issues and get the information you need across to you.

Mary Paglieri to the Rescue: Coyotes and People In San Francisco

2015-09-20 at 17-31-36

Press image to be taken to the Chronicle story

This article certainly presents an over-dramatized story:  “Predators are lurking in the darkness”, “slinking through alleyways”, “popping out of the shadows” — aren’t these fear-provoking phrases?  “A dozen sightings” — yes, but of the same three coyotes. A “pack” implies danger — the truth is that coyotes run in families, not packs, and the largest number seen together in this area has been three. 

And more dramatization without an explanation of what really occurred: Immediately after the little dog in Stern Grove was injured, we were told that this incident involved “two coyotes”, this later became “multiple coyotes”, and somewhere along the telephone line it became “five”… Everyone has been told that coyotes are in the parks — yet the owner of the injured dog admitted that he didn’t think anything would ever happen to him. He was out in a park well known for its coyote sightings, at 6:30 in the morning with two little dogs off-leash with earbuds in his ears when this totally preventable surprise occurred. Why hadn’t the Recreation and Park Department put out “coyote awareness” signs, even after dog walkers and advocates had asked them many, many times to do so?
None of our coyotes here in San Francisco has been an imminent threat to humans and this is what ACC is trying to get across to folks and the reasons for their coexistence policies. “Residents are reaching for their pitchforks” is just another over-dramatization — though talk of culling did come up. On the contrary, the intention of Mark Scardina, the President of his Neighborhood Association, became to find a solution which offered a little more than the simple coexistence education offered by the city. The only alternative besides coexistence education, he was told, was to hire a trapper, an option which involved killing coyotes since trapped coyotes may not be relocated. This is not the route his neighbors, and therefore he as their president, wanted to take.
One very concerned IT neighbor contacted me to give a presentation about living with coyotes to that neighborhood, and because of this I was able to suggest Mary Paglieri as a perfect solution. So Mark reached out to Mary Paglieri, a Behavioral Ecologist and Wildlife-Human Conflict Expert with over 17 years of experience working with coyotes at Little Blue Society. Mary’s solution includes not only coexistence education, but, if needed, she uses behavior modification and habitat modification — mostly relying on diversionary methods — to encourage coyotes away from neighborhood corridors where they might be upsetting too many people. Hers is coexistence with clout.
Coyotes become used to — habituated to — the simple “scare tactics” which coexistence education advocates have been prescribing as the cure-all solution for managing coyotes — so they don’t always work. Mary’s innovative and active but minimally-intrusive solutions are effective and create winners out of all stakeholders: neighbors, pets and coyotes. Her solutions are win-win. 
Mary points out that folks may be seeing coyotes more in some neighborhoods because of the drought, which has diminished the number of underground gophers and voles that coyotes rely on for the major part of their diet. To compensate, coyotes have been expanding their ranges — the areas they trek through, for the most part when humans aren’t around. Coyotes really don’t want to tangle with humans, but free-roaming pets can be an issue.


2015-09-11 at 08-24-51

Click on either of these images to read the rest of this extremely short (200 words) and to-the-point piece on the importance of vigilance if you have a dog in a coyote area.

2015-09-11 at 08-18-14
Note: The article, in its shortness, or possibly because of a misunderstanding by its author, is missing some important points. Most important, coyotes avoid humans, so if you don’t have a dog with you, just keep your distance to help yourself and the coyote not feel crowded or threatened. And, even if you have a dog with you, you would never challenge a coyote as described in this article unless it had come very close or was coming directly at your dog. Otherwise, leash and walk away, and always keep your distance. The point is to avoid any interaction and a confrontation always.

Pupping: Coyote Parents Are Worried, Concerned, and Suspicious of Dogs

The Behavior

Dad coyotes are out for a while in the mornings to perform “sentry duty”. With so many dogs in the parks, you can be sure Dads are concerned and worried about the areas where youngsters have been stashed to stay safe.

Most of the time, a dad will just lie and watch, sometimes with one eye shut, from a location with a broad view. He is not only watching, he is also making himself visible. Making himself visible during this time frame is a communication device for letting others know that he is there — the territory is taken. This is about territorial behavior — about protecting one’s turf.

During the time that he’s lying there, he may become uneasy over a particular dog he’s spotted in the distance. If this happens, he’ll sit up or stand to watch more keenly. This may be all he does before lying down again. However, being the good caregiver and guardian that he is, he may hurry after the dog and follow to assure himself that the dog is headed away from, and not towards, a pupping area — sort of “escorting” the dog away.

If the dog owner is not vigilant, the coyote could get close and might even deliver a messaging nip to the dog’s behind — cattle-dog fashion — to get the dog to hurry along. All dog owners should be aware of the possibility of this behavior. Remember that coyotes don’t allow other coyotes into their territories: If YOU were not there with your dog, the coyotes would be trying harder to let the dog feel unwelcome. This does not happen frequently, but I’ve seen it a number of times.

What To Do

What should a dog owner do? I’ve posted this before, but it needs to be emphasized. Remember that coyotes are not interested in tangling with humans — rather, they want to message the dog. First and foremost, if you see a coyote, always leash and continue moving away from it. You should keep your dog in sight at all times. Don’t let your dog lag far behind you where he’s out of your line of vision.

If you see a coyote following and getting too close, you need to stop and shoo it away. Simply turn around and glare at the coyote. Eyeball him eye-to-eye to let him know you mean business and that you are targeting him.  You can add emphasis by lunging or stepping towards the coyote. You want to move in his direction without getting close. One walker recently told me that she pointed at the coyote by extending her arm out far and pointing her finger at the coyote in a commanding sort of way as she stamped her foot and lunged at a coyote. By eyeing the coyote and pointing at it, there will be no mistake about who your message is for. Picking up a small stone and tossing it in the coyote’s direction is always effective. Either way, you are moving in his direction, or moving something in his direction, which is what causes him to move. Then turn around and walk on, but continue looking back. If he continues to follow, you should repeat this more emphatically — it may take several attempts before the coyote gets the message. Never run from a coyote.

NOTE, that if a coyote is close enough to engage with your dog, you’ll need to be ferocious in your shooing it off. Please see the demonstration in the “Coyotes As Neighbors” YouTube video (you can google this). It’s best never to let a coyote get this close in the first place.

Previous Older Entries