Road-sitting, Stinson Beach Coyote Needs Our Help

Photo by WildCare 2013 photo contest winner, Tony Koloski. This is one of my favorite photos of all time!

Photo by WildCare 2013 photo contest winner, Tony Koloski. This is one of my favorite photos of all time!

Inquiry from a concerned observer:

“I am writing to you because I saw a coyote this morning and wanted to report what I’d seen to someone who might be able to use this information. My spouse and I drove to Stinson Beach. On the drive up Highway 1 about 2 miles South of Stinson Beach at about 7:20am, a coyote sat in the middle of the road on the yellow divider line. We slowed so as to not hit it. It paced a bit in the middle of the road. Another vehicle had pulled over off the road before us and the driver had a large telephoto lens and was taking photos of the coyote. The coyote didn’t run from either vehicle. We wondered if it had been hit and was confused. It moved about without apparent injury. We drove on.”

“After a coffee in Stinson Beach, my spouse began his hike and I drove back toward Muir Woods to read a book until he met me at the end of his hike. At 8:12am and 2.1 miles South of Stinson Beach (around the bend of where we’d seen the coyote earlier) a coyote charged my car from the hillside but then stopped again sitting on the center yellow divider line of the road. There were no other cars in front of or behind me at the time. It appears to be the same coyote. I slowed and then proceeded on as it sat there. I am not sure how long this coyote will live under these conditions and wanted to let someone know who might be able to help this animal or track this data.”

Explanation about why the coyote doing this

Thanks for writing to tell me about the coyote. It’s a real shame. That coyote is sitting there simply because s/he has been taught to do so by folks feeding him/her from their cars. S/he’s been rewarded for this behavior. I’ve seen this happen in one of the neighborhoods here in SF. I’ve actually been told by folks that they are “helping” the coyotes by feeding them this way, as if the coyotes couldn’t find their own food. Human food sources are not good for coyotes, and most importantly it will be hard to un teach this behavior of waiting for food from cars. What you can do to help is let everyone and anyone know please not to feed coyotes. And doing so from a car puts the coyote in double jeopardy. There’s a phrase, actually coined by my Behavioral Ecologist friend, Mary Paglieri: “A fed coyote is a dead coyote.” I will pass this on to her.

And again, thank you for sending me the information about the little road-sitting Stinson Beach coyote. I’ll do what I can to get him/her help.

What we all can do to help:
If you’ll be going to Stinson Beach anytime real soon again, or know of a friend who is, I’ve been given the best protocol for helping the little coyote on the road there. Please pass this on to friends, and use it yourself if you see the little fella on the road — or any other coyote who looks like s/he’s begging for food.
You should take a couple of water balloons. Then, if/when you see him/her on the road, you should slow down your car and act as though you are going to feed him/her. As the coyote approaches, surprise it with a water balloon. The water balloon can either hit the coyote (it won’t hurt him) or hit the ground next to the coyote. The balloon should be handleable by you but filled tight so that it will rupture upon impact. The element of surprise and the unexpected will make the coyote uneasy about approaching the next car. However, it probably should be reinforced a couple of times. Don’t limit yourself to just teaching this particular coyote — ANY coyote which approaches a car should be given this treatment. And any friends of yours who are willing to help can be called part of the water-balloon brigade!
Okay, I, too will make a trek over there to help.
Thank you for your concern and for contacting me about this!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s