Call Of The Wild — In MY Neighborhood?

2016-01-05 (1)If you live anywhere close to a park, you are bound to see a coyote on a road now and then, usually in the early morning or very late afternoon, and you are bound to hear them howling now and then, and the howling could be occurring right on your street, under your window, at midnight! Coyotes howl for any number of reasons, including to communicate. Coyotes will often howl when they are distressed, for instance, when they’ve been chased by a dog, or if one (usually a youngster) has lost contact with a parent. I’ve heard one go on for 40 minutes. Of course they also howl in response to sirens, just to join the chorus!

Coyotes trek through their territory every day during the evening hours. Their territories include the vast areas around their park, including open spaces between houses. What they are doing is searching for hunting areas and marking their territories. Marking their territories is how they keep other coyotes out of their territories — their population density is thus kept stable and low. Coyotes need generally about a square mile of territory per coyote to survive.

Almost always, there is only one resident coyote family in any particular urban park in San Francisco — large parks like the Presidio or Golden Gate Park may have more than one. Based on my observations over the last 9 years, I would say that the number of individuals in these families ranges on average between two and five coyotes, and is constantly in flux, up and down between these numbers. The higher number reflects pups who have not yet dispersed. Pups disperse anywhere from one to three years of age.

Know that coyotes pose virtually no threat to humans unless they are hand-fed or unless a dog owner gets between his dog and a coyote, which could result in a bite or scratch to the dog owner. Coyotes want to avoid humans. On the other hand, pets pose problems in coyote areas. Nevertheless, it’s easy to avoid mishaps with pets by following some simple guidelines. Coexistence is what is going on throughout the country in urban areas because it is easy and it works. Coexistence is about educating the public about what coyote behaviors they should be aware of, and giving simple guidelines to help it work.

Keep your beloved pets indoors at night and don’t allow them to roam free. Don’t leave any type of food out which might encourage a coyote to linger rather than just trek on. When in the park, please leash up if you see a coyote and walk away from it — and don’t allow your pet to chase coyotes. Remember that pupping season is coming up, and whether or not you’ll have pups in your specific park, coyotes become more protective of their space during this time if they are intruded upon by a dog. Please watch the all-in-one video presentation, “Coyotes As Neighbors” which can be found at the top of the website page. If you have any questions, please contact me, Janet, or any of the folks at CCC at Someone there will try to help with any concerns you have.

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