I literally stumbled upon a family greeting/meeting during my evening walk a couple of days ago. I had been photographing a 1 to 2 year old female who was mozeying along a trail, minding her own business, pouncing for gophers of which she caught several which she wolfed down, and then she diverted into a pathless forested area.

I remained on the path but peeked over a hedge in her direction, only to find an adult who may have been Mom (or possibly a babysitter yearling), and a pup — pups here in San Francisco are about 6 weeks old now — who had emerged to greet the approaching yearling female. The female approaching did so in a crouched position, which messaged a non-threatening subordinate status. I took a couple of quick photos (which revealed the pup to be a male), and immediately began retracing my steps out of the area. These coyotes withdrew into the bushes due to my presence in order not to reveal any of their additional *secrets*.

As I was distancing myself, Dad appeared, and he wasn’t too happy about what he knew to be the discovery of his family’s hiding place. Dads spend much of their time protecting their den areas and scaring off trespassers. They hope that their mere presence will serve as a deterrent, and indeed, that should be enough. I continued distancing myself, keeping my eye on Dad. Dad messaged me his concern with a few grunts, in addition to his presence, as he watched me leave.

The gophers caught by the yearling might have been for the pup. Yearlings are older siblings to the new pups — they are from the previous, and even previous to that, year’s litter, so they are either one or two years old. They are the “aunties” and help provide for the new litter. Only one or two yearlings, if any, normally stick around like this, the rest of the youngsters from those previous litters “disperse” out of the area to make their own way in the world. A number of San Francisco’s dispersed youngsters last year were tracked as far south as Los Gatos — that’s 60 miles south — all of these were eventually killed by cars. Cars are the primary killers of dispersing coyotes: these coyotes are young and have had very little experience with the extreme dangers of automobiles.

Now might be a good time to review etiquette for coyote encounters, especially during pupping season:

The Golden Standard, and the safest and most effective option, especially when walking your dog, is simple and complete avoidance. Whether you see a coyote in the distance, at mid-distance, approaching you, or if you are surprised by the sudden appearance of one at close-range, shorten your leash and walk away from it to minimize any potential dog/coyote confrontation or engagement — and continue walking away. IF you make a personal decision to shoo it away, please follow the guidelines in the video, How to Shoo Off A Coyote”, but know that this is engagement. What’s safest is simple and complete avoidance.

Coyotes are territorial. Coyotes are possessive. This is no different from you in your home: you don’t allow outsiders to come wandering through, and if you see someone suspicious in the neighborhood you may follow that someone to make sure he/she leaves. This is what coyotes do in the only effective way they can: they repulse with their scary “Halloween cat like stance”, they may follow an intruder out of their area, or or they may nip the haunches of the dog they want to move on and away. They want you to leave, so why not do it?! For more information, see How To Handle A Coyote Encounter: A Primer.

This is how pint-size coyote pups look right now, mid-May, at 4 to 6 weeks of age.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bobbie Pyron
    May 21, 2018 @ 18:37:08

    Oh my gosh, they are so cute! And what a good dad he is, taking care of his family.


  2. Miss415
    Jun 22, 2018 @ 23:15:14

    That coyote mom is looking right at the camera and she looks so stressed out by your presence. What you are doing to these coyotes is criminal. The way you do this every single day is really sickening. Please stop and leave them in peace.

    Dear Laurel Rose: First, on my blog, you must own what you say. I don’t allow anonymous cyber attacks or bullying here, so I’m using your real name here.

    All I can imagine from your vicious comment is that you harbor deep seated anger and hate: over the last few years you have been besmirching me and my reputation on public forums, anonymously, for something you’ve made up in your head. *Criminal*? *Stressful*? *Sickening*? If anything is *criminal* and *stressful* to the wildlife, look at your own actions: for instance, chopping down shrubs with active birds nests. That indeed was traumatic for the animals involved, and your hanging up boxes to replace the nest was no substitute for a nest carefully crafted by the mother hummingbird. Or your thinking about capturing wild brush rabbits in the parks because you didn’t think they belonged there — I hope you didn’t carry this out.

    I’m not the only one you’ve attacked: I’ve spoken to both M.Scardina and B.Peacock about your venomous attacks on them — they are kind enough to keep the peace, but do you think they are your friends now? And you were so nasty to your own father and even wouldn’t speak to him for 8 years: he ended up disinheriting you before his death, and now it’s too late to make reparations. My suggestion to you is to please go get help for all your anger and hate — in the end that mental state is only hurting you.

    I’m willing to remove your comment if you wish.


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