FIRST: A Guidelines/Safety Box:

1) A VIDEO ON COYOTE BEHAVIORS, GUIDELINES & DOGS: a one-stop video, by me, on urban coyote behavior and how to coexist with them, how to handle encounters, and why culling doesn’t solve issues:

Original Coyote Coexistence Presentation, Condensed version: How to Shoo Off a Coyote

Charla en Español     好鄰居–郊狼”    English: How to Shoo Off a Coyote

*A protocol clarification for when walking a dog  (not addressed in the video): Your safest option always is flat-out, absolute AVOIDANCE: Whether you see a coyote in the distance, approaching you, or at close range, leash your dog and walk away from it, thus minimizing any potential dog/coyote confrontation or engagement. If you choose to shoo it away, follow the guidelines in the videos, but know that what’s safest is proactive, preventative unmitigated avoidance: i.e., walk away.


citizencoyote-by-janetkesslerPress on image above for another crash course on coyotes


*A Quote Worth Pondering (blog follows)

“If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other.  If you do not talk to them you will not know them, and what you do not know you will fear.  What one fears one destroys.”      Chief Dan George

Charles Wood, a frequent contributor to Coyote Yipps, adds: “I want to try and express Chief Dan George’s words a little differently, though I believe the meaning is the same: ‘If you talk to the animals they will talk to you and you will come to know them. When you come to know them, you will love them, with respect, without fear. What one fears one destroys. What one loves one defends.'”

For more photos, visit UrbanCoyoteSquared: A Gallery.


Mother Leader, by Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet, 

I’ve been setting up this month’s property patrols and have cancelled “Kinky’s Place” for the next 2 months as her family is studied by biology students, and her litter is expanding in areas and experience.

Something of note is the students feel Kinky is not only an exceptional mother, but also Leader of her family. Her Mate is a nicked up weary type male. She makes him seem flaccid in family support but perhaps that unfair. It may well be he does alot unseen and is tired.

But the family moves and happenings seem really directed by Kinky. 

Her moving to the area of poison oak habitat was really sharp. It’s open in some parts but always has bushes a mere hop away. This has ensured no golden eagle predation on pups and minimizes their visibility in play. Litter size is now 6.

The dozens upon dozens of meat caches she made past weeks still are being utilized by her. The pups are hunting voles and insects now. 

Yesterday, a doe died a couple miles from pups. A vehicle hit her and she made it to pass deep in woods. It’s hard to witness. And yet, it’s a prize to Kinky and her family. She was seen on it last night 5 times. It’s hard to relay the sheer work and mileage she puts in at time. 

She also is the one who sees off dogs or other coyote near her denning areas. 

All in all…summer mode is in gear. For Kinky I only wish her well. My dogs and I are very busy but also rest alot. 

I can only wonder at Kinky’s hard work and dedication to her pups. She was hard raised in her youth. And she is a force of nature as a Mom, Hunter, Patroller and Adaptive Scavenger. 

PS-She is only half mile from very thick groves of wild plum. I almost guarantee when they are ripe she moves her fam there!

To a meaty and fruity summer!


This is never easy to see or witness for me. The road is over a mile away. Many deer make deep woods to pass away after being hit.The only positive thing will not be wasted. Kinky was feeding here within hours and off and on all night. By day vultures and ravens will cover it. Foxes, Weasel, Bobcat, Raccoon, and even bear or cougar or wolf may claim it. But Kinky was there 1st. And will utilize as much as she can. 

Thx Janet!

Of Leaders all I can say…experiencing them in all my personal belief is some are made by experience..the best are born…and I feel and have seen the strong female type are the best and most serious.

My male dogs are utility level serious workers and very experienced. And one is a Leader. Yet they have certain traits many males have..that lend to mistakes or easy going styles to degrees.

My females are immensely more focused and serious. If my males are seeing off strange dogs on property..the males will chase but gladly see off. 

The females are very earnest. You don’t want to be their focus in certain situations.

That’s just me and my limited experience. I think there are many more female coyote and wolves that are the core of their territory and families. It just hasn’t been as eye catching as larger bolder males. 


A Killing Crisis for Both Sides – With Insights and Input by Walkaboutlou

There are tried and true solutions to the issue that would cost much less, while at the same time benefiting both the environment and the ranching industry. Please read the following and spread this information. Walkaboutlou has SEEN first hand, over a period of more than 40 years of first-hand ranching experience, the detriments of slaughter, and the benefit of working WITH (not AGAINST) the environment with guard dogs. His words:

If they spent A FRACTION of that money on quality LGD dogs and behavioral education for farmers and ranchers to learn how to use such dogs it would make difference. This is all about a lifestyle certain “animal control” folks and certain hunters want. 

I know of large remote herds and ranges maintained by LGD that almost never experience such losses or behaviors. Excesseive herd sizes spread out in total isolation and not watched is the issue. Some individuals want to treat entire regions as one massive grazing pasture with no predatory wildlife. That’s what its about. 

That is old school manifest destiny ranching. And some still are willing to waste millions of dollars enforcing their beliefs and hobbies. 

When we hear individuals using terms such as vicious etc describing natural predators we have to stay calm and also see other side. Lambs and calves are dollar signs to ranchers..but also it really is emotionally upsetting to find them killed or injured graphically. It’s a “A Killing Crisis of Both Sides” since there are livestock being lost as well. The thing is…it’s a preventable Crisis. Yes.

But again the issue is behavioral shaping of wildlife. And lack of protection provided by fencing and LGD packs.

When we rent vast regions of BLM land or own vast regions which herds roam without daily protections these are magnetic to predators. When they find no resistance…its free food.

A 100 dollar bill on sidewalk doesn’t lay long.

Unprotected rarely checked herds in isolation will be checked out.

LGD are part of the answer. And the days are over not checking on herds weekly or even daily. 

Also…coyote are viewed with almost extremism for many. They are an excuse to hunt without regulation or rules and some revel in that. Also..they influence other laws allowing other species to be included in “management”. Coyote are very political so to speak and you can easily affect wildlife management of other species allowing anti fervor to flame unabated. 

So much to consider. More science and solutions are available more then ever. A pack of well bred well supported LGD truly act as a huge step resolving predator issues.

But many have a culture of resisting such solutions. 

I did want to add one more solution that’s not popular in modern circles..but was in older days. And works.

Locally in our region we have ONE (that i know of) 1 Range Rider. A Range Rider travels range and checks on or stays with livestock. The one I know travels daily via a switched team of 2 mules and a mustang. He literally with several dogs rides everywhere checking for wolves, trespassers, calf checks etc. His wide and unpredictable patrols keep wolves very nervous..and they simply pass cattle. They do not tarry. They fear his sounds and prescence. They are literally taught certain areas…are patrolled and enforced. 

Zero losses to predation. Range Riders are experts of land management and often have extensive training in animal behaviors as well as ecosystem enrichments. They improve herds, lands and wildlife coexistence.

But they aren’t free lol. 

Anyhow. I think my insights are minimal. The PROOFS found in fencing, husbandry, Range Riders and LGD packs are abundant and available. 

It just means not allowing people who literally want millions without feasible results to take control and take funds. They need more science then “ravens are vicious”.

(If I took millions before and there is still “predator issue” I either wasn’t thorough, I wasted your money, or I’ve found a way to funnel money for my own agendas.)

The Move

Some coyote parents have pups in the same area year after year. Some move for a year — about a mile away, while still maintaining their home-base territory — and then return the next season. Some move far away to an entirely different territory for good — 5 miles away from their original long-term territory and remain here until a territorial battle drives them away. These are some of the situations I’ve documented. Every coyote family is as different as is every human family.

And I’ve seen numerous instances where pups are moved at about two months of age within an urban territory to about 1/4th mile away. That’s what this posting is about.

Two pups in a den under a house on a construction site

Denning locations in the city are chosen mostly for their inaccessibility to dogs. Dogs are intruders that coyotes detest the most. I’ve seen dens built right along the freeway, beyond a fence keeping dogs and pedestrians out. The noise is incredible — the whooshing by of car wheels on the freeway and force of the wind against those vehicles, in addition to all the motor noise, is deafening. But coyotes prefer this over dogs.

Construction site

Human activity, no matter how noisy, as long as it isn’t intrusive, is also preferred over dogs. Multiple enormous tractors with huge clanky digger-arms and noisy motors, along with a lot of activity and movement of this equipment have not stopped coyotes from denning at construction sites. And it is here, in the middle of such a site, under a tiny cement building, Mom had her pups this year. Mom and her mate along with a yearling could be glimpsed coming and going among the hubbub, and it was obvious that Mom was in a lactating state. And then one day, a tiny head popped out into the open from under the building. For several days we thought there was only one pup, but then a second one appeared. When pups are first born, they stay put, but after 6-8 weeks, they need to start moving — and a construction site was not ideal for them at this stage. Mom knew she had to move them.

It’s not uncommon for mothers to move their pups at this stage — six to eight weeks of age. If you are aware of it, maybe that’s all you see. But by focusing in, I could see all the intelligence involved: planning, forethought, knowledge and work.

Mom must have been planning this for some time. Weeks before moving, every night, she would slither under the fence to the new area and work on digging places where her pups could duck into and hide if they needed to. She worked at this in the thick foliage among a tangles of branches which would be difficult for dogs to penetrate. Remember that a coyote is only 30 pounds and with the bendability of a cat, allowing them to slither under and over things. Not so for dogs. I didn’t capture the digging, just the coming and going each night at that new location.

The time had to be right, and that time would be when the pups began following her around — the same as little ducklings follow their mothers. I caught what I thought of as them “practicing” their following skills, or, possibly Mom “testing” to see how well pups would follow. They did!

Practicing following

On the day of the move, Mom led them to the construction site’s fence line. However, she knew they might not follow in the street where there were too many new distractions. For the street part of the journey, she signaled one of the pups to remain quiet and stay put: it’s a signal all pups know. Meanwhile she picked up one of the pups by it’s back, and carried it out the gate and along the sidewalk, crossing a number of streets, and finally slithering under the hole of the fence to the new area. Within ten minutes of depositing that youngster, she headed back to get the other one, and returned with that one within 25 minutes.

Interesting is the time of day she did this. One might have expected her to make the move at night when no one was around. But she did not do that. One of the reasons may be that the fenced construction site could only be exited from the gates. She herself could slither under the gate, but only barely — the tiny opening under the gate probably was not high enough for her carrying a pup. I had actually seen her walk out that gate at around noon a number of times, probably practicing and assessing what the situation was at that time of day. Shortly before noon every day, even I was able to see that almost all dogs had already been walked, so few would be out to go after her, and traffic was at a low at that time of day. So, when Moving Day came, this is the time she chose: 11:45 for one pup and then 12:20 for the other.

One person saw her walk down the street carrying a pup, and a friend relayed this to me — thank you, Beth — I myself missed it, though I knew it was coming. But I had cameras set up at the hole under the fence at the new location, and that is what I have to show you, below.

Interestingly, this mother followed the exact same pattern two years ago, moving her pups on June 1st of 2021. This year it was on May 26th. Also of interest, only Mom moved the youngsters. She was not helped by Dad or her yearling daughter.

So, just imagine the planning and foresight involved: planning for contingencies on the street, planning her route, planning the time of day this would happen, making sure the pups were ready, planning that it would happen at all, preparing the new denning spot. I think you have to be pretty impressed with the capabilities of coyotes generally, but especially with the capabilities of coyote mothers!

Mom brings first pup in under the fence. Ten minutes later you see her patrolling the fence line before heading off to pick up the second pup and returning twenty minutes later with him.

Injuries and Ailments: A Coyote’s Life is Hard and Short

12 years old is old for a coyote in the city

Life is not easy for a coyote. Among their strifes with each other, humans, and dogs, there are injuries and ailments, and environmental hazards, a few of which I’ll address here.

Lifespan in captivity for a coyote is about 14 to 16 years — it’s about the equivalent of what it is for a dog of that size. But in the wild-wild, I’ve been told, the average lifespan is only 3-5 years — much of that is caused by human predation. Here in the city I’ve known a number of coyotes who reached the age of 12 and almost 12, but, in fact, few actually reach that milestone.

Cars are their biggest killers

Of course cars kill and might be considered their chief “predator” in a city: twenty-four dead coyotes were picked up in 2021 in San Francisco from roadways. There were probably more coyotes hit by cars that were able to scramble under some bushes where they perished but were not counted. And then there were those who survived their car hits. The most notable I knew of happened many years ago: a single mother (her mate had been killed by rat poison) with two very young pups. This coyote managed to drag herself along for months, feeding herself and her youngsters all by herself. After two full months she was again using that leg, gingerly, but she was using it. Over time she did recover: but you can imagine how difficult life was for her during her healing time.

Rat poison has kills

Another coyote killer in the City is rat poison: I’ve picked up several dead coyotes showing no body traumas which could indicate poisoning was involved. Only one was necropsied, but that animal’s body was found to be riddled with four different kinds of rat poison. Rat poison works by causing internal bleeding, so before it kills, it weakens the animal tremendously — and probably hurts unbearably. Some survive milder doses, but their reactions are slowed and subjecting them to further injury. Those with heavy doses die pretty horrible deaths.

Dogs chasing him broke his ankle

Leg injuries are pretty common in coyotes: I regularly see them limping. Although dogs aren’t the cause of all their limping, I have seen plenty of coyotes end up limping after having been chased by a dog. In the uneven terrain, and woodsie areas which they run into in order to escape a dog, the sticks and holes are little booby traps for their fine limbs, and they get injured.

I’ve seen an actual broken ankle — so diagnosed by a wildlife vet from a video I sent her — caused by running from a dog. That ankle eventually, over many months, healed, but it came back to haunt him three years later, when I again saw him limping on the same back leg: he had just lost his mate who had been hit by a car and now he needed to defend his territory and pups from takeover, but he could not do so without his mate. The weakened and then re-injured ankle may have resulted from him trying to defend his turf. He was driven out and I have not seen him for a year.

Dogs chase coyotes constantly in San Francisco
This fella’s left front arm was broken and healed crooked.

I saw a broken forearm (either the radius or the ulna) — I have no idea how it came about. That was an 18 month old during his dispersal time. He returned to one of the territories he had passed through earlier and was lucky enough to hide in the yard of some good Samaritans who nursed him along. Today, at four years of age (he was born in 2019), he maintains his limp — not a huge one, but a limp nonetheless. In spite of his condition, he is the alpha male of his own family — so he’s a real survivor.

Skin lesions from all sorts of pathogens & injuries exist.

I have not seen any cases of mange in the city, but I’ve seen plenty of skin lesions. Below is a case that looked like the result of a mite/flea infestation which then was licked and worked over by the coyote, causing more hair loss than anything else. The wound itself could initially be seen as fiery red, so it must have been painful. I again sent photos of this five-year-old lactating mother here to the vet. The vet replied — this is after the furious red had died down — that the coyote was healing well, that she (the coyote) did a good job of cleaning up the wound, that it could have been a puncture or foxtail wound, and that coyotes seem better at healing on their own than dogs. I don’t usually see skin lesions that are that big — most appear substantially smaller than this one and there are usually many such lesions on an animal.

Bulbous ear growths

Worms and intestinal parasites obviously exist as shown by my regularly seeing diarrhea and seeing “scooting” behavior, which almost always signifies worms, the same as with dogs.

Coyotes are in fact constantly grooming each other to prevent insect infestations. Here are two youngster siblings removing ticks from each other.
Tag caused an ear infection and deformed ear; radio collar did self-release so she’s stuck with it

Scientists wanting to study these animals — besides harassing and terrifying the animals by capturing them — use gadgets that they staple or buckle onto the animals. I’ve seen tagging that resulted in a permanently flopped-over ear, and radio-collars which were supposed to be automatically self-released but malfunctioned so that after five years, these cumbersome objects are still attached to the animals.

Other human injuries are caused by sporting paintguns which can cause internal injuries and even the loss of an eye. We almost never discover the extent of any injury because we hope for minimal human intervention and, besides, nature is one of the best healers.

An injured eye
A lost eye could have been caused by hunting.

Here’s a coyote without an eye. I don’t know what caused this injury. I can just hope it wasn’t caused by a human. This is one of the Golden Gate Park coyote pups born last year who dispersed to Lake Merced before disappearing completely. The coyote was much, much smaller than his siblings, possibly due to his inability to get enough food. Hardship again. And here’s another coyote who only two days earlier was perfectly fine, but now she’s squinting severely with her right eye — again, I hope it wasn’t caused by humans.

These are wounds from a territorial battle. She was driven away from her home, but eventually got it back.

Wounds from territorial battles are not so uncommon. I’ve seen a 4 year old limping home from such a battle. The worst I’ve seen is a five year old father who had part of his lip torn off. And then there was Scout whose flight from her territorial battler I documented extensively on this blog.

Gophers can fight back by biting hard.

But wounds also occur from just simply everyday life. For example, in hunting for gophers, the gopher often, if it can, fights back. This may be one of the reasons a coyote *toys* with its prey: to keep that gopher away from its eyes. I had a friend with a pet python snake who had lost an eye to prey: the owner saw it happen.

Infant mortality is always high in coyotes. Last summer a pup was found dead at the Presidio about ten days after it died — it was too late to perform a necropsy.

And at West Portal last year, one of the four pups was either born with a birth defect or acquired an injury early on to his spine because — he was lame and much smaller than his siblings The vet told me it’s very likely the result of distemper, and the case in the Presidio may be the same: distemper causes neurological compromises that can result in lameness. I saw a cheetah abandon such a pup in the wild — that did not happen here. This fella was not abandoned or ditched. He was allowed to grow up with his siblings who prodded him on. And, miraculously, he improved! He began walking regularly, albeit with a bit of a wobble which over time subsided. At this stage, I don’t know what the effect will be on him as an adult.

You know that there’s an ear problem when they continue to shake their heads. There’s no vet to take care of the infection or remove the foxtail. They learn to cope.

What I have depicted here are the visible injuries and afflictions that I myself could identify. Those diseases that aren’t so readily visible or identifiable, include rabies of which we’ve had no cases in San Francisco, canine distemper — which we can sometimes identify by the injury it causes to an animal, tularemia, canine hepatitis and mange, which is associated with weakened immune systems caused by rat poison.

Scars are their histories — most of the stories we’ll never know, but what we should know is that survival requires some tough beatings. Here are some scars that have stories behind them — and I know only a very few of them. On the left, the scars have healed, but his scars were as disfiguring as these two to the right which were fresh when I took the photos.

So, a coyote’s life is hard and it is short — but it’s harder elsewhere I think, where they are subject to predation mostly by people, whereas wolves used to be their main predator, until we killed them all off. Fortunately, we here in San Francisco have gotten rid of the sinister culture still maintained in many areas: killing them to manage them. One old-timer told me that in the 1950s, San Francisco paid $4.00 bounties for a set of two ears. With all the killing humans have imposed on coyotes — 200K a year — their numbers have not gone down. As a species they are survivors and resilient. As individuals, just like us, they are trying to survive and thrive in a sometimes hostile world. We need to give them a break by simply keeping a distance and walking away from them if you have a dog: that alone will make life more pleasant for them AND for dog owners!

We don’t shoot them on sight here in SF

Cases of Both Mothers AND Daughters Lactating

Threesome raising a den of pups: Mom, Dad & lactating Daughter

I have now seen four cases of both an alpha female mother AND one of her remaining daughters — always a two-year-old who has just come of reproductive age — both lactating on the same territory and in the same denning area. These four cases occurred in separate families and territories. The following names won’t mean anything to most people so I’m just putting them here to differentiate them for myself. 1) Tarn (alpha female), Pink (daughter) and Rookie (new alpha male) in 2022; 2) Chert (alpha female), Squirrel (daughter), and Rookie (new alpha male in 2021); 3) Scout (alpha female), Li’lGirl (daughter), and Skipper (new alpha male) in 2023; and 4) Ma’am (alpha female), unnamed daughter, and Blue (long-time alpha male) in 2021. 

I have been attributing these “double lactations” to two different pregnancies due to the sudden disappearance of the resident alpha male and the quick appearance of a new male who moved into the vacated alpha position. This made sense to me, based on what I’ve read, that “when the alphas are killed, disorganization leads to more litters and the population increases.” [Bob Crabtree]. Indeed, the long-time alpha males totally disappeared in the case of #1, #2, and #3 above, which fit Crabtree’s conditions, but this was not the case with #4. But then again, I was only seeing the #4 family from a distance, and rarely at that, so I figured I was simply missing something from the situation.

So the obvious explanation for me was some sort of polygamy or harem situation. However, this runs in the face of what I’ve seen before over the last 17 years, and it runs counter to what we’ve been told about coyotes: that coyotes are monogamous. And also, younger females are known to be *behaviorally sterile* unless there is a disruption by killing (or a death) — and there was no disruption of this sort in family #4. So everything wasn’t aligned between what I knew and what I was seeing.

AND THEN, I read about pseudopregnancy in dogs which is apparently common phenomenon in canines. I got my information online from a 2017 paper by Robert A. Foster: Female Reproductive System and Mammae”, published in “ScienceDirect”: which is about domestic dogs, but I think it’s safe to assume that coyotes might exhibit the same phenomenon. For how the process works you’ll have to click on the article above, but the relevant information is this:

It has been hypothesized that this condition is an adaptive response to allow non-breeding females to help raise offspring of the breeding female.54 Associated physical and behavioral changes are very broad in scope, ranging from none all the way to the equivalent of pregnancy. Included can be nervousness, guarding an area, making a nest (66.1% of nonpregnant females), abdominal distention, mammary gland development with or without lactation (78.6%)

Through the 16 years that I’ve been observing, I’ve seen many yearlings help raise the young of their parents, but only within the last several years have I seen this “double lactating”. So, my question is, would these be double-pregnancies (and therefore polygamous situations), or are the yearling daughters just “helping to raise their mother’s new pups” by contributing to the milk supply, among other things?

Coyote reveals her lactating state to me.

My observations are all visual, and I never go close to densites, and so I wouldn’t be able to tell which of these two potential situations exists in these four cases: in all cases, the lactating daughter also swelled up in size — but as you have read above, this is a symptom of pseudopregnancy. However, based on case #4 where the long-term alpha remained and was not replaced, and based on what we know about coyotes being monogamous, I’m now leaning towards the belief that these daughters are simply helping their mothers. By the way, in the cases before 2023, all of the lactating two-year-olds dispersed when the season was over, except one who remained until April of this year before leaving. In addition, all of the alpha mothers were about eight years old..

I’ve asked Dr. Benjamin Sacks at UC Davis if he can provide me with his knowledge of, or references to, these situations. AND, since we have the DNA from scats from some of these situations, we’ll be able to tell definitively what the situation is for that family — these are still being worked on. I’ll be following up with more once I find out more, but I wanted to go ahead and post this today, on Mother’s Day!

Our Coyotes: Live Talk at Fort Mason

I’ll be giving a presentation about coyotes at the Fort Mason Community Garden on Saturday, May 20th at 10 am. If you are interested, it will be a poster talk in lieu of a slides because projected slides would just be washed out in the midday light! There should be plenty of time for questions afterwards. The RSVP seems to be an informal request by the FMCG — so far, I see no place on their website to do so. I was told that most people don’t RSVP.

Denning Challenges and Choices. And Good Moms. By Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet, 

I wanted to share with you a student’s observations and leanings. Which lead to more questions. 

Kinky Tail continues to raise her very active litter. There are 7 either there was a miscount originally or 2 have disappeared. They think 2 pups have disappeared because there is a local golden eagle who for years has been seen with coyote pups, fox kits and feral cats. It seasonally comes to this area during lambing and calving times. It has been seen daily flying over den areas.

That well may have encouraged Kinky to move pups as well as..ticks. Locally we’ve seen plague level numbers of ticks. And Kinkys grooming times with pups seemed very long last week. Her last den area was absolutely infested with 3 species of ticks. Ugh.

Now however, Kinky moved pups to a rendezvous of log piles, poison oak bushes, and grazing cattle. 

The student says she doesn’t believe the location was randomly picked. 

The abundance of poison oak keeps people out except rarely riders of horse or quads passing thru. Ranch folk.  

The grazed range grass is short and doesn’t hold high tick densities compared with long grasses or brush areas. 

And finally, having an entire cow to scavenge 2 miles away after move means less animals near pups (scavengers galore) and Kinky doesn’t have to hunt the longer grass fields for voles. Which mean tick pick up. She has the cow or many dozens of caches. Also discovered was she visits an orchard and gleans old fallen Apple’s from last Fall.

This Student feels Kinky’s choice of den was premeditated and thought carefully out. It has minimal tick numbers. Humans rarely come and pass quickly. It’s open with vast vistas and hillsides yet has hiding places for pups. The Longhorns don’t encourage canine visitors. It’s close to dead cow but far enough pups don’t meet scavengers.

She also is study wild turkey brood site selections and says the studies lend to each other. Wild Turkey Hens need to sit on eggs around 28 days. The picked site is obviously paramount. A poorly picked site is disastrous. There are hens that pick poorly or lose patience or dedication and leave eggs too long as well. Then there are hens that cover eggs while minimally foraging for bugs and food and rush back fast. How a Hen Broods means Everything. And not all hens are good moms. 

She says it’s same for Coyote. Some mothers are functional but rather minimal. Or make bad choices. Some..seem to be absolutely dedicated mothers. She feels most coyote are very dedicated Moms. 

So how much is choice and thought when picking a site to hide and raise your kids? She feels Kinky Tail is neighborhood cognizant. 

In her words “No wolf gang signs. No noisy dog parties. No bad nosy people. Riding thru people that she’s known since pup and plenty of longhorns and poison oak seem the latest mood and pic”

Kinky is doing well. She has 7 very active very fat pups. She’s busy busy busy. By day she stays at den. At night it’s cow scavenging, cow caches and long long drinks. And some nights old apples. She grooms her pups even as she comes home bedraggled. Growls briefly but playfully at Mate as he leaves for day shift. 

Real Estate Realities are working out for Kinky. 


My Profile in SFGate

Journalist Paul Krantz — he’s interested in environmental issues and in speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves, i.e., the animals — asked if he could write a “profile” about me for SFGate. I had no idea what a profile was, but I agreed, as long as it would promote the coyotes, help with understanding them, and delineate guidelines for coexistence. Then I balked when he wanted to send out a photographer — I suggested that we could use an old photograph? He tried, but that photographer was off in a remote area and could not access the contracting papers that are necessary. So I reluctantly agreed to a photographer. And look what I got! A fantastic writeup by Paul and fantastic photos taken by Doug Zimmerman! And hopefully my message will reach more people. Thank you both!

Janet Kessler has been watching San Francisco’s wild coyotes for 16 years.

She knows individual coyotes by their faces, has assisted with genealogical studies, and spends time observing them almost every day. The 73-year-old self-taught naturalist is known to some as San Francisco’s “Coyote Lady” because of her efforts to document and advocate for what some would say are the city’s least appreciated residents. To read on, click here.

Old Habits, by Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet.

Kinky Tail moved her litter again and it reminded us of her Father’s moves and habits. 

Her father in times of vulnerability and old age sought the company of a captive herd of bison. He not only found the stirred up voles easy meals..the bison seemed to keep canines away. 

Kinky Tail’s observers feel she’s nervous more so with pups starting to dodder about. She moved them to a hilly area with cut wood piles…and smack dab in Longhorn pastures. These are range cattle held temporarily as they calve or get checked on. They aren’t afraid of wolves, bear, cougar…arent really fans of dogs but pretty much ignore coyote. 

With such neighbors she can still easily go and scavenge her dead cow as live ones provide horned deterrents to any predators or dogs that pass close to her pup dens. 

It could be coincidence. But it sure seems like her father’s moves. His last few vulnerable months were always with Bison. 

2nd pic…white bull….pile of logs is one of the puppy dens. 

Horns work!


Kinky and her Mate can move here and cattle won’t even look up. If a dog or wolf trotted thru, different story. 

Scout: Moving On, An Update

Scout is eight years old now and just had her fourth litter.

Recently, I’ve had only short glimpses of Scout, but that’s been enough to update me about some of her changes. She’s 8 years old now and at times looks worn: her scar-studded face (which is not all that apparent until you look closely), her about-to-be-shed old winter coat, and her slow pace at the time may have influenced how I saw her: maybe she was just having some “tired-fur-days”. She’s usually alone, trekking through one of her territory’s main hubs of which she had two. Notice I used the word “had”.

This is a good time to bring her story up to date. If you don’t know Scout or haven’t read her saga, you might want to. It’s the stuff movies and books are made of. In fact, her story has been recounted in a documentary, and is coming out as part of a book, not by me, but by someone who has interviewed me — I’ll write more about it when that comes out. The last time I updated her story was on December 21st.

From rotund on the left, to lactating on the right within the first week of April.

What’s new? Scout has just had her fourth litter. Of course, I haven’t seen any pups, and won’t for months, but I saw her balloon up in size over the last several weeks in March, and then in early April deflate in size and show signs that she’s lactating.

Scooter, her mate from the previous three years and father to her previous three litters, is no longer around — I have no idea what happened to him. He just stopped appearing — I last saw him on January 17th. The most likely scenario is that he met his end in a car accident. A car killed one of his pups only a few months earlier on a high-speed, busy roadway not far from last year’s den. In 2021, San Francisco picked up 24 coyotes killed by cars in the city. Although I’ve seen a couple of coyote “divorces”, these are extremely rare, so I don’t think he just left Scout or vice-versa — this was a very openly devoted pair of coyotes.

With Scooter gone, Scout has retreated to within the boundaries of her old territory. Last year, with him, her territory had expanded into a vast area that was new to her. She didn’t give up her old territory, rather, she retained both! A yearling daughter remained at the old place, and since both Scout and Scooter returned there nightly, there were plenty of scent markings to deter any potential takeovers by other coyotes seeking their own territories there. It became my belief that Scooter may have originally come from that new territorial extension and possibly even led Scout there. But as I said, he is no longer in the picture and Scout no longer returns to that area anymore. This is why I think her lost mate and the extended territory they held were connected somehow: she has moved on from both.

I last saw Scooter on left on January 17th; Skipper, Scout’s new mate on the right, appeared at the beginning of March

By March 2nd of this year, there was a new male in her life and I’ve seen Scout with him enough times to know this is her new mate. The question is, who fathered her pups this year? There are six weeks in there where I only ever saw Scout, and never with either of these males. Without knowing which one was with her 63 days before giving birth (the beginning of February), we won’t know who the father is. I am no longer collecting scat for DNA identification, so this will never be known, unless the pups somehow bear a strong resemblance to either male. Some family resemblances are uncanny and this might give it away, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Here are a few seconds showing Scout happily greeting her new mate after the birth of her pups. She seems to be saying, “I did it!”

I occasionally see her two-year-old daughter, see: Strictly Monogamous?. Scout’s one surviving offspring from last year’s litter, a male, can sometimes be seen in that abandoned new territory where he was born.

Over the years as she has aged, Scout has become more and more circumspect. I believe this has to do with aging: as coyotes get older, they are less willing to take chances — I’ve noticed that the same happens to injured animals. It’s probably a self-protective measure.

At the same time, reports have again begun about “aggressive” coyotes in the vicinity: these reports come out regularly during every pupping season. Specifically, it was reported on Facebook that a leashed dog pulled away from its owner and was chased all the way home by an “aggressive” coyote. First, any dog that’s not attached to a person will be targeted to “leave” the area by coyotes. They aren’t interested in engaging or mauling, their intent is to drive these “pests” — because dogs indeed are pests in a coyote’s eyes — out of the area. Even leashed dogs could be approached by an alpha (parent) coyote for this purpose: it’s best to just keep walking away from the coyote, showing that you aren’t interested in a territorial conflict, and that you are abiding by its wishes to move away. This coyote behavior is more correctly a “protective” behavior and is displayed within about 1/4th mile of any den site by all coyote parents.  You can eliminate scary situations by keeping away and then walking away from a coyote the minute you see one. 

Your best option might be to try a different route for awhile. If this is not possible, keep your eye open for any coyotes and walk away from them the minute you see one, especially if you have a dog which should always be leashed in a known coyote area. If you have a little dog, pick it up as you leave. If you haven’t kept vigilant and a coyote comes into your personal space, you’ll have to try scaring it away — but know that prevention is much easier than dealing with an angry coyote up close.

You can see an enlargement of this poster by clicking here.

Bonanza for Kinky and Fam, by Walkaboutlou

[For those interested, Kinky Tail has a history. Enter “Kinky Tail” into the search box to read more about her and her family]

Hi Janet,

An update on how strange life can be, and how coyote take instant advantage.

On our patrols early in morning we saw a cow had died during calving. Unfortunately it happens with these range cattle.

Her last movements put her in view of the Ranch Patriarchs home. He’s housebound bit scans his land incessantly with scopes and binoculars.

It’s customary now to burn or bury a dead cow if possible. Especially with wolves now usually we want to limit exposure for taste of beef. 

But the timing and place of death also lead to the ranches college kids who are becoming biologists, to conduct experiment.

The hypothesis is..the spot is too open and noisy for wolves to scavenge. LGD are literally next hills over as well. So permission was granted for experiment on the basis if wolves arrive they have to remove cow instantly. 

So far…trail cams and Ranch Patriarch have noted…a lot of scavenging. No wolves as of yet. Golden Eagle, Vultures, Raven, Jays, 1st came. Then a Badger literally burrowed under..and in it. It seemed to be there days. Racoon. A fox. Mink, Weasel. 3 dogs. (Someone’s Doodle got very filthy) 

The highlight is….Kinky Tail.

Kinky Tail and her Mate realized…a cow dropped dead within sight of pup den. Bonanza. But problems too. A lot of company visiting too close to den. 

That of the kids showed Patriarch how to use night vision scopes.

He scoped and watched Kinky..from 9:14 pm to 1 a.m. moving NINE! 9 pups from hillside den to old shed foundation many yards away. 

Then at 3 a.m. her Mate came..fed doddering pups at new spot and curled up to sleep. Kinky went off to feed and cache food 3:15-5:56a.m. Then went inside new den and didn’t emerge until late afternoon.

Also noted…3 strange coyote came to cow..chased off by Mate but returned later. Territories don’t seem to hold much force when huge meals are available. At least for some coyote.

The kids are charting up facts and trying to apply science with realities seen..and possibilities thought. We never know whole picture. But tentatively..locally..we see coyote seemed to have disappeared large scale. We see wolves traveling widely after deer and elk. We see a dead cow not utilized by wolves… we suspect site too open and with homes and LGD in view. We see one of the few remaining known coyote have huge litter. And we see them take instant advantage of cow dying at den site…but 1st moving pups. 

The hypothesis and info gathering will be intense next few weeks.

The Patriarch has his own predictions.

Those are going to be the fattest coyote pups for 100 miles.

Take care, 


PS: I think Kinky will be a superlative Mom. Her Mom and litter siblings were wiped out by wolves. Her aging father and land lessons molded her fast. She bred early and denned in Sun scorched cliffs..raised 2 pups and instantly left cliff area when wolves trotted thru this year. She’s only 2 but has learned a lot. I feel biologically her body did just as we have heard…coyote population locally dropped…she had huge litter. 

She is a small slip of a coyote but of immense mind. Her mate seems small in her presence though he’s big. Making meat caches all night then gorging then feeding pups all day…shes busy. And the type of coyote that embodies this indomitable flame of canine species.

Wolves are Top Dog Here

Dogs Rule The Ranches

And Kinky Tail Navigates Them All.

Irony, by Walkaboutlou

Hello Janet,

Spring is in full swing here as calves and lambs and kids are all over ranges. The birds of prey are nesting and all over animals are prepping for young or starting to raise them.

Coyote wise it’s been the quietest we have ever seen or witnessed.

It’s ironic that I think all of us want more wildlife. More balance. More natural lands. But when we get them, it isn’t always what we expect.

We slowly have realized, the reason we aren’t hardly seeing or hearing our customer hillsides of Coyote is…they aren’t here any longer.

Wolves are.

Wolves have established multiple packs in our areas. And this is a game changer if you are a wild canid.

Before I start, I’m not speaking against wolves nor am I making any suggestions for “wildlife management”. 

But wolves change the scene because that is what they do literally to survive and raise pups.

It was a slow realization for us the past few weeks. The consistent coyote chorus of individuals and territorial packs…dwindled. Now they are sporadic and very scattered.

Trail Cams, tracking and a lot of studying and listening helped us realize, a pack of 5-7 resident wolves are now here. Such a pack can claim vast areas.

They need these areas to get enough meat to sustain pack and pup survival. So without invoking emotions we relearn wolf biology and math.

5-7 wolves. Each one 80 to over 100 lbs. Each needing a great deal of meat and space. With pups coming. 

Wolves and Coyote are…normally…enemies. Wolves absolutely will hunt down adult coyote or displace them. Some wolves dig up coyote dens. They scatter coyote. The coyote respond by being coyote. Faster. Scatter. And quieter in some ways. Some coyote scavenge wolf kills. It’s very dangerous.

It’s natural. It’s nature. But admittedly…its learning to accept a new Top Dog. 

With the exception of Kinky Tail young female we knew of…all the other coyote we used to hear…stopped. They may have been killed. They may have left. Trail Cams show weekly 1-7 different wolves trotting thru. They don’t stay. But are performing hunting and territory patrols. Any canine found by them…lone ranch dog, coyote, fox, is in mortal danger if they don’t quickly escape. It’s 101 wild candid biology.

It doesn’t mean coyote are wiped out. But…there are way less of them. And the ones that remain are covert coyote indeed.

Kinky Tail left BOTH former denning areas this spring and seems to have pupped ironically close to a Ranch though she’s safe. They won’t bother her. Wolf tracks regularly are seen in the cliff areas, hence likely her decision.

Her mate has been feasting days on 2 road killed deer that were taken by humans to woods. (Ranch dogs like deer too hence deer are removed to woods) 

He’s obviously bring her venison and burying it all about. A brook revealed Kinky drinking ravenoulsy and deflated to pre preggo proportions.

We wish them best.

So…Irony. A lot of people say they want wolves. But I think Coyote would say different lol. Still..we are seeing yet another aspect of Coyote adaptation. They’ve been dealing with wolves millennia until last 100 plus years.

Take care Happy Spring


For comparison: a coyote weighs between 25 and 35 pounds; a wolf weighs between 80 and 130 pounds.

Dispersal Maneuvers

Dispersing youngster.

Yesterday at dusk, I saw a dispersing youngster wandering through a neighborhood. He was not fast-to-flee, but rather carefully deliberate and much more aware of his surroundings than he let on. He kept out of the way and to the edges when the couple of people or cars were around, otherwise he used the street. He found a baggie and attempted “milking” it for what it was worth. It looked empty, but it must have retained odors from its previous contents because the coyote was interested in it. As I observed, I became aware of the coyote’s right hind foot: it was compromised, which you could see only from certain angles. Coyote legs in particular are thin and subject to injury — I’ve seen such injuries mainly from being chased by dogs. This guy soon headed to the bushes and I didn’t see him again. That’s about par for me for observing a dispersing coyote: I only ever see them fleetingly. This is because they are not in their own territories, but just passing through what might be another coyote’s claimed territory — in other words, trespassing.

If you look carefully, you can see his injured hind right leg in these photos. This did not appear to impede his movements, so the injury probably happened long ago.

Dispersal here in San Francisco seems to take place mostly during a youngster’s second year of life, although I’ve seen it as early as 9 months of age, and as late as 3 years of age. It takes place at any time of the year: there’s no actual “dispersal season”. The new pupping season has begun, with new pups having just been born — this is one of the times when some yearlings, due to big changes in the family, may decide to, or be prompted to, move on.

Coyote population is like a breathing bellows, expanding during the pupping season, and then shrinking back down after dispersal to the alpha pair, with possibly a couple of yearlings lingering a little longer before moving on. The yearlings who remain at home — and these can be either male or female — it’s not limited to just the females — serve as a great help in raising a new litter and in defending the territory, and they themselves eventually move on.

What are the features of dispersal — how is it achieved? I’ve seen parents drive youngsters out, I’ve also seen youngsters just pick up and leave when they are ready without cause, and I’ve seen siblings driving siblings out. Interestingly, opposing this process, I’ve seen parental feeding keep youngsters around well into their second year.

When a parent instigates the dispersal process, it appears to me to be driven by reproductive jealousy, as well as, sometimes by a crack in the hierarchical order. For this purpose, parents use silent intimidation (such as intense and prolonged intense staring) or physical intimidation (body slams, punches, bites) as well as hierarchy demands. Hierarchy is strong right from when the pups are born, with pups learning to lay low and hit the ground submissively at meetings with the parents. Sometimes I’ve even seen youngsters appear to shrink into themselves to look smaller when greeting parents, possibly in hopes of looking younger and thereby sticking around longer? It is mothers, or alpha females, who mostly intimidate their female youngsters — especially those who show an interest in Dad, and alpha males appear to intimidate and drive out the younger males, particularly if they show an interest in Mom. I saw the process begin with a youngster at 7 months of age in one family.

A form of sibling rivalry seems to include who is able to be next to a parent — it’s almost a kind of jealousy. I wonder if regular proximity might influence a parent’s decision to allow a certain youngster to stay on a little longer. Certainly that individual would have a survival advantage over a sibling who left — that’s one of the survival perks of having a territory to stay on. I just read in Wikipedia about starlings kicking their siblings out of the nest to insure they get all the parental attention and therefore a better chance at survival and reproductive survival — their rivalry goes as far as siblicide. Getting a sibling out of the way, out of the picture, seems involved sometimes with coyotes. Interestingly, Wikipedia even uses human step-siblings as examples of a siblings’ need to displace other siblings for their own advantage: did you know that murders in this group are higher than between other groups? This is how intense these rivalrous sibling feelings can be.

I’ve noticed that youngster males are allowed to remain in a family much longer when a Dad isn’t around — say, he died and another alpha male didn’t take his place — or when dad has become enfeebled by old age and may need the youngster to help defend the turf. I’ve seen such a male then move up into the alpha position — yep — becoming his mother’s mate.

It’s after leaving home that dispersal becomes dangerous for urban coyotes. This is due to cars — cars are their chief killers in cities, due to hostile territory-owning coyotes who drive them away, and due to unfamiliarity with new terrain. They appear to search for new homes mostly at night, when it’s safest for themselves.

BTW, a couple of times, I’ve seen a dispersing, “foreign” injured yearling youngster accepted as a visitor by an alpha female in another territory: it’s really altruistic behavior. I don’t know how common this is. More often, I’ve seen dispersing youngsters being repulsed by territorial owners.

Here are some dispersal directions and final destination I’ve been able to track in San Francisco (center photo — clicking on it will enlarge it for you):

To the left: rivalrous siblings duke it out. Center: some dispersals that occurred within the city (most youngsters move south and out of the city); Right: dispersal is a dangerous time for coyotes — cars are their chief killers.

During dispersal, a brave and strong yearling could end up fighting for a territory within the city where they detect weak or aging alphas — this happened in the Presidio in 2019. Or, a lucky coyote just might find a vacated niche here in the city — this happened at Bernal Hill in 2016. A youngster may wait it out on the periphery of a territory having assessessed one of the alphas to be weak, and then move in when the opening occurs: this happened in the Presidio only a couple of years ago. However, most dispersing youngsters seem to move south and out of the city because all territories within the city are already taken (per Presidio study).

In this video, a mother coyote wallops her yearling daughter to either disperse her or to instill fear in her so she won’t reproduce. Notice Mom is being aided by her son, her daughter’s younger brother, who appears to be simply copy-cating his mother’s mean behavior. In this particular instance, daughter was regularly cozying up to dad. This particular situation ended up with the parents leaving the territory to their daughter because she would not leave.

These next two dispersal maps come from the Presidio (©Presidio). The first map to the left details one coyote’s months of criss-crossings in search of a territory, even out of the city and back, and, the next map (in the center, below) shows her journey’s end in the Presidio: note there is no more wandering, she found her niche and sticks to it and keeps other coyotes out. Of 15 coyotes tagged and collared in the Presidio over a three year span, all apparently were killed by cars except one. In addition, the radio-collars and tags themselves created problems. Here (below right) is a deformed ear due to an infection caused by an ear tag, and her collar was supposed to fall off after one year for humane reasons, however, it malfunctioned and she has been burdened with it for 6 years and will be stuck with it probably now for the rest of her life. I’m not a fan of these gadgets, but the maps are fascinating.

The two maps to the left are from the ecologist at the Presidio©, based on recordings from a tagged and radio-collared coyote. To the right is what these gadgets look like: The ear-tag became infected and caused the ear to permanently flop; and the radio-collar itself was supposed to self-release after a year, for humane purposes, but it malfunctioned, so she’s been stuck with the collar for the past 6 years.

Family Communication Howls

This five minute video is of a family interacting vocally in the late afternoon. It’s actually two interactions within about an hour of each other, starting at about 6:30 p.m., with napping in-between.The wind noise during the first minute and a half is really off-putting and painful to listen to. You can turn the volume down during this section or jump ahead. I wish I knew how to take out the wind — I’m sure there’s a way.

The video starts out with Mom calling out to her family — no sirens were involved. At :40 seconds into the video [the numbers below refer to the progression of the video], the rest of the family responds, and Mom then intensifies her own calls as she replies to them — you can see and hear this uptic in sound. At 1:15, satisfied with their responses, she heads off to another location nearby but does not join them. Some people have speculated that this type howling is a “roll-call”, but it isn’t, since repeatedly I have seen some family members absolutely ignore the sounds and continue with what they were doing.

By 1:23 the rest of the family is sleeping on a hillside without Mom. If you didn’t know they were there, you would not have seen them — they pretty much blended into the hillside and looked like part of the landscape. Dad looks up briefly at 1:53. Of course, I didn’t stick around to video them sleeping (!) but the minute I heard them again, I returned.

By 2:05 the family is howling again, this time in response to sirens. If you listen carefully you can hear that each coyote sounds different, and you can hear Mom’s deeper voice in the background. Howling is often set off by sirens, but just as often it’s initiated without them. Possibly they are simply confirming their family unity and their family separateness from any neighboring coyote families. If sirens occur late in the afternoon, as in this case, the coyotes may use it as their signal to meet up at the rendezvous — a nightly event — which begins their activity together through the evening. Coyotes sleep mostly during the daylight hours in urban settings as an adaptation to avoid people, even though they are not at all nocturnal. They are as diurnal as we are.

By about 4:07 the howling has stopped. They interact minimally, and then they head off to meet Mom for their rendezvous.

At 4:36 you may have to turn the volume up to hear their squeaky voices during their meeting: this part is hidden from view because they are deep in the bushes.

Within a few minutes of hearing these high-pitched voices from the bushes — it was dusk by this time and difficult to see them — I saw three of them headed out together with purpose and direction to their steps — they were on their way to patrol and hunt and mark their territory in order to keep non-family coyotes out. One of the youngsters, the female, seems never to come with them during these treks. I’ve seen this stay-home behavior in a number of younger females. I don’t know if they remain home due to not feeling secure away from home, or if there is some other reason.

Death Forensics, with Patti Palmer & Walkaboutlou

I was so interested in your answer here (“Do Coyotes Kill Each Other“). A month or so ago, I found what appeared to be a newly killed/largely eaten coyote just off trail in a regional park. My first thought was it was a mountain lion attack. In that event, I reported it to park rangers. They checked it out, but didn’t close the trail or post warning signs, so I figured maybe they saw something I didn’t. A fellow iNaturalist user suggested it may have been a territorial dispute between two male coyotes. I was skeptical, but there did not appear to be a good explanation. Your post offers clarity, but now I’m back to the larger predator theory…

(I’m a huge coyote fan and your blog is wonderful.)

Hi Patti — All we can go by is what we’ve seen. What I wrote was what I’ve seen; and Lou — based on his own observations for many year — confirmed this. If you happen to see something different, by all means, it needs to be added to our information. So far, your evidence isn’t conclusive. Dogs also may have maul and killed the coyote, and then another predator could have scavenged the body. OR, even a car could have killed the coyote and it could have been dragged to where you found it. In that case, I would think the predator might have been a mountain lion. If you find out anything new, please keep me/us posted here. Thank you for your input! Janet

Hi, Janet, thank you so much for the response. The only other piece of information that was interesting was this death coincided with the injury of a regular coyote I’d been “following” for the past several months. The day I found the cadaver, the coyote I’d been following had blood on his back leg and what appeared to be a small spot of blood on his head. The next day, he was limping. After that, he disappeared (approximately two months ago). The site of the cadaver showed quite a bit of trampled vegetation and tufts of fur. (I have photos, but I won’t forward them unless you’re interested.) Ultimately, you’re right–I don’t have anything conclusive, and, to my great frustration, this will likely remain one of nature’s mysteries.

Hi Patti — Very interesting! It’s like a puzzle, isn’t it? Yes, I’d be very interested in the photos. Would you please send them to Raccoons can also kill coyotes, especially if the coyote is compromised in some way. Thank you! Janet

Good morning, Janet,

Here are the photos. For background, I took them in conjunction with an app I’ve been using the past few months, iNaturalist. During my hikes, I take photos of anything interesting and add them to my iNaturalist page. I’ve found coyotes are among my favorite subjects—all of the circumstances of their lives and deaths, hence the photos. I’m going to share all of the details of what I saw/know about the incident at hand, so you have the full picture, and you can choose as much or as little of the information as is helpful.

I found the cadaver in a Regional Park, Orange/Orange County, California on 14 February 2023 around 11am. It was just off a Nature Trail, a 700-ish-foot long “interpretive” trail that loops around. The relatively small area is enclosed by a tall chain-link fence. The trail is narrow and the vegetation is a little thicker than other trails in the park. Theoretically, dogs aren’t allowed. There are two openings to the fenced area—from the back, there is a chain-link door that can be locked. The main entry is from a controlled access road (no cars allowed). I’ve never regarded it as a widely-used trail, but people do stumble across it.

The cadaver was just off the trail. In addition to the body, the vegetation was trampled and there were pieces of what appeared to be fur all around. The exposed meat was pink and there was no smell of death. Photo 1 is the scene as I first encountered it from one side of the trail. Photo 2 is from the other side of the trail. You can’t see it well, but there was a trail of trampled grass leading to the scene (the clearing where the cadaver was shows just at the top/middle of the second photo). [NOTE: These first two photo I’ve not included in the post since they really don’t show much].

Here was the cadaver itself. It had rained lightly that morning and the area was damp, but it was also fairly protected overhead by tree canopies, so not much sun. It appeared to me the body had saliva on parts of the fur, but it may have come from the rain. I got as many photos as I could, but I was really uncomfortable on the trail. It’s relatively isolated and the kill looked fresh. I was convinced the predator was still in the vicinity. 

When I finished my hike, I reported the find to the park rangers because my first impression was it was a mountain lion attack. They said they were interested and intended to check it out. The next day, I went back and found they had not closed the trail or posted warning signs, so I thought I may have been jumping to conclusions about a potential mountain lion in the area. After I posted the photos to iNaturalist, a fellow coyote enthusiast suggested the possibility of a fight between two coyotes. This death was in the general territory of the solo male I’d been following for a while (see below), and I thought the trampled ground and fur could just as easily have indicated a territorial fight. One further piece of information: I saw a bobcat very nearby the next day. I’m not sure he contributed to the death (or maybe he did), but he may have helped consume the body. 

As I mentioned, I found the cadaver around 11am. This second circumstance coincided with that find.

Earlier that day, around 8am, I encountered one of two coyotes I’d been “following” for a few months. This one had been traveling solo since his partner disappeared a few weeks earlier. He was moving a little slowly. Eventually, he wandered through a brushy area off trail and then laid down (photo 3). It began raining hard enough that I took cover beneath a nearby tree. He continued laying down throughout the rain. I never saw him get back up or leave the area. Later, when I got home, I looked at my photos and saw he appeared to have blood on his back, left leg (photos 1 and 2), and a possible smear across his forehead (photo 1). 

I saw him one more time, 15 February 2023. He was favoring the same back, left leg. I haven’t seen him since. (For context, up to that time, I had been seeing him solo and/or traveling with his mate, at least once a week for several months.) 

I’ve been so curious about what might have happened that I began two e-mails to you, but discarded them both. When I saw your piece about whether coyotes might kill each other, I finally took the opportunity to reach out. 

I hope I’ve given you enough information. In the event that you need more detail/clarifications, let me know. Otherwise, I wish you continued luck with your important work. Thank you for being there for these wonderful creatures. 


Hi Patti —

Wow! Thank you so much for sending. You are as detailed in your documentation as I am — don’t know many people like us! Most people report a sighting, and that’s it. It’s very interesting. And, of course, the bobcat could easily have been involved — though felines apparently don’t scavenge. If the coyote were already compromised, I’m wondering if a bobcat could have won a fight. However, I tend to think it was a dog: that would help explain why the other coyote also had injuries. :( May I forward this on to a friend who knows coyotes well and may have some insights? 


Hi, Janet, 

You’re welcome to forward any/all info.

I’m glad you, too, are detail-oriented. I’m one of those people who believes having too much information never hurts, but having too little can!


Hi Lou —
Hope you and your canine family are enjoying the rain! Wow, what a change from the fires caused by the drought. We’re really swinging back and forth with the weather!

Someone wrote me, trying to figure out how a coyote might have been killed — if indeed he was killed. She found my post on “Do coyotes kill each other” and thought I would be interested in this. Someone had suggested to her that there might have been a territorial fight between two coyotes, which is why she contacted me. Initially, she thought it might have been killed by a mountain lion, so she reported it to the rangers. But since the rangers didn’t close the trail or put up signs, she decided that the rangers didn’t think it was a mountain lion. Of course, at this point we’ll probably never KNOW, but I think we can paint possible scenarios. I suggested that it could have been a dog who killed the coyote. In your last comment to me it seemed as though this was a possibility. I didn’t think another coyote would have engaged in a territorial fight to the death. As for a bobcat, my thought is that if the coyote were at all compromised in any way, a bobcat could (maybe?) take down a coyote, but I’ve read that felines don’t scavenge. 

Might you have any thoughts about it — about this situation she describes here?

At least I thought you might be interested. She said she could provide clearer photos if that might help analyze the situation.


Hi Janet,

Interesting stuff. It’s hard to really develop a clear picture via pics because the land often will tell you alot as well.

I would say either it’s a cougar kill OR someone shot it or it died naturally and turkey vultures scavenged it.

Turkey Vultures definetly trample grass and leave tuft of fur all over. Ironically so do cougar. If there were chewed bones bingo. Cougar. If bones were intact vultures. It looks very well picked. Very hungry cat or..vultures.

Bobcat I would rule out except in case of pups. Dogs are always suspect. I know in some areas here, coyote, ranch dogs and wolves all will feed on each other. But that’s here.

I’ve never heard of or experienced coyote killing each other. I’ve seen them in heated battle and seen some with terrible scars. But with each other they seem to have that switch and scuttling off is always an option. Unlike their enemies of dogs and wolves.

I just was examining an eaten skunk. Somebody was really hungry.

Take care stay safe,


Hi Patti —

Well, here you go (above): more input.  If you examine your larger-file photos really closely, might you be able to tell if the bones have been chewed? Do you have vultures in your area? We don’t regularly have them here in San Francisco, neither do we have cougars, but they do come by on occasion. At any rate, it does not sound like it was a coyote/coyote thing.  Janet

Janet, That was wonderful insight, simply put and helpful: bones intact-turkey vulture; bones chewed: mountain lion. 

If your source wants a closer examination of the area for his own edification, I’m just going to forward this one shot and hope it’s not too big. It’s easier to see what’s going on. There are two bones that appear chewed: one is next to his tail; the other is the foreleg that is draping over his skull (or what is left of it). The latter looks a little shattered. So much is gone–I just don’t see a lot of bone structure left behind at all. This appears to indicate mountain lion.

But yes, we definitely have turkey vultures and I have seen them pick a body clean. I didn’t see any in the area around this time, or the next couple of days, but that’s not to say they didn’t show up at a time I wasn’t there. 

Regardless, it looks like consensus is being reached on the original question, which is whether another coyote was responsible. The lingering question is what happened to the other park coyote, but it could have been a completely unrelated injury that ultimately turned deadly. I was so devastated to lose him. I hope new ones show up soon. Patti  

Hi Patti — Yes! It looks like that: a mountain lion, which, interestingly, is what you originally thought — at least involved in eating some of the remains (we can’t know how he died)!  As for the other coyote, you know, if this one was its mate, that one may have moved on in order to avoid the same fate. Coyotes have more strength when they are in pairs, less so when alone. That one will now have to look for another mate. And that coyote may have been involved in the brawl and been injured, and gotten away. Just speculating, but this sounds reasonable, don’t you think? Thank you for this photo and your further assessment. 

Would it be okay with you if I posted the whole thread — I’m just thinking about it? I would take out the exact location, and use your name only if you wanted me to. Let me know. It was really interesting!


Janet — Of course you can use whatever material you’d like of our interaction (masking the location at your discretion; using my name is fine). It’s the least I can do for all of the help you’ve given me! Again, many thanks for your attention to this. The overall incident upset me, although, ultimately, it was a good lesson in the “nature of nature.” But dealing with you has been such a pleasure! Patti

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