Coyotes on the Cliff in Daly City, by Mark Citret

I live in Daly City, on the western side of the western-most street, just south of the San Francisco city limit. My backyard backs onto about 150 feet of cliff top before it plunges down to the Pacific. About a month ago, at dawn, I just caught sight of a sharp featured canine creature loping northward along the cliff top. Before I could grab my binoculars he was out of sight. But I’d seen enough coyotes in the mountains and the desert to know it was a coyote.

Then yesterday morning around 8 I saw this handsome guy just standing out there, stalking a gopher hole. This time I had time to grab the binoculars. I opened the window to see him more clearly, and at that point he looked up and was quite aware of me, but he didn’t bolt. I guess the prospect of the gopher was too enticing. I wanted to take some photos, but I had no idea where my point and shoot was. I’m a photographer, but I prefer film and it had been so long since I’d used my G10 I didn’t even know where it was. Knowing he might be gone by the time I found it, I risked it, and when I’d finally found it he was still there, intent on getting the gopher. Got a few shots off before he finally made his leap at the hole. I don’t think he got his prey. He trotted off north. I’ve attached a few pix.

I then googled “coyotes in San Francisco” and that’s how I came across your name and website. I’m wondering where this guy lives. I’m about a mile south of the stables at the SF/Daly City line, and there are pretty large stretches of wildland above Thornton Beach, below Skyline Drive and the Olympic Club golf course. I’m wondering if his den is down in that area, or if he comes all the way from Golden Gate Park. Any ideas?

In any event, it was a thrill to see him. I don’t own any long lenses, so the 30mm zoom on my G10 is about the best I can do. If I could entice him into hunting the gophers right in my backyard I could get a better close-up.

I’ve enjoyed your website and blog.  

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 16:18:03

    Comment from Jennifer: There has been much research conducted on the range and behavior of coyotes in urban environments by a group lead by scientist Stan Getz in Chicago. According to their findings, the average home range of an urban coyote is less than 6 miles. There is easily six square miles of open space with no major roads where you spotted this guy, so chances are this coyote is a resident.
    I recommend you check out their research if you are curious, as they have been studying their 200+ Chicago coyotes for more than ten years now.

    Reply from Janet at Yipps: Professor Stan Gehrt at Ohio State University is conducting fascinating research on coyotes in the Chicago area which is home to 2000 (two thousand, not two hundred) coyotes. He also has a superb website with lots of fascinating information: Please check it out!


  2. Charles Wood
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 23:47:03

    Hi Mark: Your male coyote may be solitary or he may be mated and possibly with children. A coyote pair will use a den when the pups are small, not usinig it otherwise. If he is mated, he probably lives in your area somewhere with an established territory. If solitary, he lives on the perimeter of the territory of other coyote family groups in your area, if any, with forays into those other territories when temporarily undefended. Coyotes will share some spaces that are beyond the territories they do defend. I’ve seen coyotes in territory of less than 2 square miles, which is in line with the findings of the Chicago study referred to above. See Home-Range size, where the territory they defend is smaller than the home range by their definition. And of course, he may have just been passing through.


  3. Dianne
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 05:35:03

    Hello Mark, I was just at my friend’s neighborhood earlier when we decided to check out the sunset from the cliff here in daly City. I think it’s the same cliff you were talking about. Anyway, as we were taking pictures I turned around and I thought I saw a dog, but as it strolled by I noticed it wasn’t with its owner. I take a closer look and realize it wasn’t a dog. I knew it wasn’t a fox because they seem shorter than this particular one, and I didn’t think it was a wolf (more like hoping it wasn’t a wolf), but I totally forgot about coyotes. I had my point and shoot Sony with me so I was able to take pictures and videos as well. I wanted to take more pictures of it as it walked by so I whistled and it looked back at me. For some reasonI wasn’t afraid but I knew better than to try to do anything with it. I think it found a gopher or two so I was glad it had something to feed on. Afterwards I wanted tog et a video with the coyote behind me but I must’ve scared it off.

    Anyway, I’m really glad I stumbled across your page because I really wanted to know what I saw. I think it lives in the bushes on that cliff and didn’t seem to be too scared of us since it probably sees visitors now and then. This is my second time going to that cliff but I hope there won’t be any harm caused by the coyote nor the visitors to the animal.


  4. Mark Citret
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 14:43:07

    hi Dianne, After not having seen the guy for a year or so I’ve seen him maybe a half dozen times in the last month. And these times have been in the middle of the day, rather than the early morning sightings previously. I think you may be right– that he lives very close by, possibly in those bushes you mention. But I haven’t seen any others or pups, so I’m not sure that Charles Wood’s April 2012 speculation is correct, that he’s mated and possibly with children. I’ve spent lots of time in the desert and Death Valley, so I know the yipping that coyote pups make. Haven’t ever heard that here. But maybe these urban coyotes are more circumspect.

    There seem to be unlimited gophers around here, so there’s food for him. I’ve also seen raccoons and skunks, which I hope he has the sense to avoid. I also worry a bit about the neighborhood cats, who also hunt gophers out on the cliff.


    • Dianne
      Sep 27, 2013 @ 04:54:16

      Hi Mark,
      Well it seems that it may be the same coyote you saw from last year. And maybe his hunting times have changed too, or he probably goes out whenever he needs to feed. We saw him just before sunset (which was at exactly 7:01pm last night). He wasn’t around long though, I think he just went out for some food before night time. And I hope it’s on the same cliff as yours because I just moved back to Daly City from the east coast about a month ago so I’m not very familiar with this area.
      I also forgot to mention that it was particularly very windy yesterday (not that it matters or anything) but I enjoyed myself a lot with what I saw.

      In regards to Charle’s post, i would love to share some photos that I took although my freezing hands weren’t very steady due to the powerful winds that evening. Janet just emailed me so I’ll be sending the photos to her.
      I was wondering if you heard any coyote attacks from the cliff area? I’m aware that animals will be animals and will attack when scared or threatened, but I was just curious in case I do go back to the cliff.

  5. Charles Wood
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 22:58:18

    Wow! I would love to see pictures, Dianne. Perhaps Janet would post some if you sent them to her?

    It is hard to know much about a particular coyote without frequent observation. The pair I had been watching: I haven’t seen them since the end of June. I had thought I would see their puppies at least by July, but they seem to have abandoned the den area, or their foraging habits and times have changed. Also, I was surprised to see an unfamiliar older female coyote near the den area a couple weeks ago after dark. Coyotes are full of surprises and it takes lots of observations and clue searching to get some ideas about what might be going on. So I want to say that no yipping means a solitary coyote, but ya never know.


  6. Sherman Van Lieu
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 02:06:41

    Just recently my son photographed a coyote on Higate in Daly City. He was able to watch it walk down the street towards skyline blvd. where it vanished into the brush and trees.


  7. Elizabeth Herrera
    Jan 15, 2016 @ 06:03:45



    • yipps
      Jan 15, 2016 @ 16:27:11

      Hi Elizabeth — We tend to fear what we don’t know about or understand. Please try to learn something about coyotes. Your extreme fear is unfounded. Coyotes don’t approach people unless hand-fed or cornered, and they may guard a den area. Simply keep your distance and know how to shoo one away from yourself if it gets too close by mistake. Coyotes are wary of people and keep their distance. Please watch the video, “Coyotes As Neighbors” and read about their behavior on this blog and about guidelines on the site. Hope this helps. If you have any questions, please let me know. Janet

    • Sherman
      Jun 26, 2016 @ 06:59:32

      Elizabeth you ask WHY ARE COYOTES WALKING THE STREETS? Elizabeth they were here before we settled in the Daly City area. I find it alarming that you reacted in such a manner. Do you also know that raccoons walk our streets, skunks walk our streets, opossums walk our streets, and many other wild animals? These animals are all part of our ecosystem and it might help you to go to the library in Daly City and study up on these animals so you know how to react when you see them. They are more frightened of you then you should be of them except if you are walking your tiny little dog or cat, then the Coyotes just might take a closer look at you.

  8. Sherman Van Lieu
    Jan 05, 2018 @ 06:17:13

    More sightings on Higate, and more coyote calls at night. We also observed one on Shelborne street between Higate, and Southgate in December. If you have small pets your best bet is not to walk them at dusk to dawn, unless your prepared for a possible coyote attack on your pet. Another thing I have noticed is the decline of feral cats in out neighborhood. We had on the average of at least six just in and around our block, now there is only one. Coyote population up, feral cats down.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jan 05, 2018 @ 19:58:59

      Hi Sherman — In fact, almost all altercations between dogs and coyotes can be avoided: The minute you see a coyote while walking your dog, shorten your leash and go the other way and keep going until the coyote isn’t around anymore. Here is a brochure on How To Handle A Coyote Encounter: A Primer. There is no way a wild animal such as a coyote can tell who is a pet and who isn’t, so please protect your pet. Also, take a look at the video, Coyotes As Neighbors.

      Coyotes are territorial, so if you are seeing more coyotes, you may simply be seeing the same coyotes over and over again, or you may be seeing pups who will soon leave the area — they always end up dispersing. It’s sad about the feral cats which are neither tame nor wild. They are kept in an in-between-state by people feeding them. Their survival instincts have been compromised by the feeding. It’s actually the feeders who have put the cats at risk. Please help people in your area understand this.

  9. Sherman Van Lieu
    Feb 01, 2018 @ 23:47:17

    My son went out last night to 7-11 and when he came back and as soon as he opened his car door he could hear several coyotes calling to one another. On further inspection he recorded a video of the coyotes on the staircase leading to Fernando Rivera middle school from the Southgate/Mayfield intersection. Inn his video you can clearly hear them communication through yelps and howls, and their eyes where lit up from the flash of his phone camera. He said he believes he saw no less than 4 coyotes, but feels there were more, possibly up to 6. We will update more sighting soon.


  10. Sherman Van Lieu
    Feb 04, 2018 @ 05:06:21

    While at the Daly City Rec Center last night where I practice martial arts one of myclass mates and I heard a coyote calling out. Seems like we are getting an ever growing population.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Feb 04, 2018 @ 21:32:17

      Hi Sherman — Thank you for commenting. It’s common to hear coyotes in all of our urban landscapes. About their population size: they are known to regulate their own population densities through territoriality (once a family claims a territory, they don’t let other coyotes into it), and also through the limited food supply. If you SEE coyotes again and again in the same locations, it will be the same individual coyotes which you are seeing repeatedly. They mate for life and live in families — any time you see several individuals together, it will be a family unit. The group you are hearing in Daly City is a family where the parents are trying to *disperse* some of the youngsters. Dispersed youngsters have been found as far away as Los Gatos, so they travel far and away. If you are interested in finding out more about their howling and yipping, please visit the posting on Coyote Voicings. Hope this answers your concerns. Please let me know if I can help further! Janet

  11. Sherman Van Lieu
    Feb 07, 2018 @ 22:05:55

    Thank you for the update. My two sons and I are very interested in all forms of wildlife, and these coyotes have added another new wild species to watch, and enjoy. When I first moved to Daly City in 1989 the thought of seeing and/or hearing coyotes was something of a dream, that dream now has come true. We keep our eras, and eyes wide open at night, and as a dog owner I let others in my community know and understand that they need to be cautious when walking their smaller dog breeds at night, or early morning.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Feb 07, 2018 @ 22:43:56

      Hi Sherman — When walking your dogs, keep vigilant and keep your distance. The minute you see a coyote, just shorten your leash and keep going the other way. You could try scaring one off if it came too close, but your safest option always is to keep moving away from it (without running). And thank you for letting the community know about them. If you want, direct them to this blog — it has a lot of interesting information! Janet

  12. Sherman Van Lieu
    Mar 05, 2018 @ 00:44:22

    My youngest son videoed a male, and female coyote on Lincoln right next to the Jefferson school district building. They were checking out gopher holes. I spotted a lone coyote that same evening crossing John Daly Blvd close to Hwy 35. Love seeing our local coyotes.


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