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.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. miss415
    Sep 23, 2015 @ 20:12:21

    Education is key in all of this. In Ingleside Terraces, as sightings increased so did the fears- all based on what the neighbors did not know. I think the term “coexistence” was itself part of the problem and still is because it is hugely misunderstood with people believing it means, “. . . we invite them in to be part of the family. . .” as one neighbor is quoted in the article. Coexistence need to be defined it terms of what it IS and IS NOT in order for fearful people to consider it as an option.


    • yipps
      Sep 23, 2015 @ 21:08:17

      Coexistence certainly does not include, “invite them in to be part of the family.” Coexistence means keeping your distance and keeping them wild and maintaining personal boundaries. Coexistence is also about not killing animals simply because you don’t like them or are afraid of them — education can help with this. It’s about understanding their behaviors and about following commonsense guidelines to protect your pets — guidelines which are no more difficult to incorporate into your routine than are rules of the road for cars and seatbelt usage rules. Janet


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