San Franciscans share natural places with a variety of wildlife, including coyotes. Temporary park closures are for the comfort and safety of people, pets, and wildlife during breeding season (spring and summer months). During birthing and pup rearing, coyotes feeling more protective which may result in more assertive behavior. Our goal is to give coyote families temporary relief from stress (dogs) while ensuring public safety. Preventing confrontations is the best policy.
From April through August, San Francisco Animal Care & Control (SFACC) often receives reports of increased Coyote activity in Golden Gate Park. This increase in sightings and encounters may be due to a mated pair of coyotes protecting their den and newborn pups. SFACC works with SF Recreation & Parks on signage and barriers to decrease the chances for encounters between dog walkers and coyotes.
Coyotes are shy animals and not known to be aggressive, but they will exhibit assertive behavior when threatened or protecting pups. During pup-rearing season it is not unusual for the animals to try and frighten humans with dogs who venture too close to their den. People should not be alarmed about the coyotes, but they should be aware of the animals, avoid the areas where there is known activity, and read and follow instructions on signs placed in active coyote areas.
If You Encounter a Coyote
- Do NOT let your dog interact with a coyote.
- Never turn your back on a coyote or run from a coyote.
- If you encounter a coyote, shout, wave your arms, throw small rocks. The goal is to appear threatening to frighten the coyote away, not to injure it. It is unlawful to harass or injure coyotes.
- Carry a cane/stick, an air horn or a whistle with you on walks to frighten a coyote away.
- Never let a coyote come between you and your child or pet.
Tips If Your Neighborhood Has Coyotes
- Keep pets indoors, especially at night.
- Never feed a coyote. Feeding a coyote can put your family and your pets at risk as the animal learns to expect food and loses their natural fear of humans.
- Feed your pets indoors, or promptly remove outdoor food dishes when your pet finishes their meal.
- Secure garbage cans with a lid that fastens shut or a bungee cord, or keep garbage in an area that is secure from wildlife. Coyotes can tip garbage cans and obtain an easy meal. Put garbage out the morning of your pickup to reduce the amount of time the cans are accessible.
- If a coyote is frequenting your neighborhood, let them know that they are not welcome. Make loud noises, squirt them with a hose or super-soaker, or pop a balloon. It’s important that coyotes stay wary of humans.
- Keep pets on leash in areas frequented by coyotes. Keep a close eye on dogs when using a long, retractable leash.
- Pick ripe fruit off of trees, and pick up fruit that has fallen to the ground.
(Get Viewer (External Link))
If you see a coyote acting aggressively or exhibiting strange behavior, or if it appears in distress or is injured, please call Animal Care & Control at (415) 554-9400. We are keeping a log of coyote sightings in San Francisco. To report a sighting, please e-mail the date, time, location and any other details of the sighting to: ACC@sfgov.org or complete this form: Coyote Encounter Observation Report (PDF).
SFACC receives many inquiries about options for removing the coyotes. Relocation is illegal under CA State law. It is also inhumane. Lethal removal is ineffective and unethical since another coyote will simply take its place, often within weeks. ACC and coyote experts feel that the local coyotes are here to stay and their hope is that the community learns to peacefully coexist with them. Melissa Peabody has made a beautiful film, “San Francisco, Still Wild at Heart (External Link),” which is a virtual case study of the arrival of coyotes in our urban communities.
Be responsible pet guardians; leash your dogs where required and respect temporary park closures. Wildlife in San Francisco needs a little breathing room while its young are present. Urban wildlife is part of the health of San Francisco’s parks—part of the heritage and history of our area—and coexistence is possible with a little give-and-take.
Related Links (Get Viewer (External Link))
Coyote Encounter Observation Report (PDF)
Living with Urban Wildlife
Project Coyote (External Link)
Dogs and Coyotes: What You Need to Know (PDF)
Your Wild Neighbors: Coexisting with Coyotes (PDF)
Keeping Domestic Animals Safe (PDF)