San Francisco Pet Owners Told to Beware Coyotes During Pupping Season – CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — In San Francisco, a pair of coyote attacks on small dogs has raised an alert for pet owners and a warning that the wild animals are losing their fear of man.

Signs are up and the footpaths are closed in Corona Heights Park in San Francisco. It’s coyote pupping season and, in San Francisco, coyotes are not only tolerated, they’re given a safe place to breed.

“I was surprised that there was an area here with an active coyote den in the first place,” said Judy Shon from Sunnyvale, who was visiting the park with a friend. “That’s pretty interesting in the middle of a city.”

“I’m glad that San Francisco still has wildlife,” said resident David Zandman. “I hope that humans and wildlife can live in peace and not attack each other. I’m glad that S.F. allows them to, kind of, do their thing and keep residents safe at the same time.”

That is the sentiment of a lot of San Franciscans: live and let live. But that’s not always how nature works.

The coyotes are predators, always on the hunt for food and, as they lose their fear of man, they have become bolder in killing small pets. Twice in one week, small dogs were snatched right in front of their owners who had momentarily let them off leash. One of the incidents occurred at the corner of 14th and Castro, a half mile from the park. On Sunday morning, Bobby DeBernardo and his little dog Joanne were chased back into their house by a coyote.

“It noticed us and then it crossed the street, no problem, and started getting closer. So we ran back inside,” he said. “Yeah, it saw us and came to us. It’s not the first time.”

Signs are posted around the park warning dog walkers to keep their pets on a leash and advising that small dogs be picked up and removed from the area. There are also many reminders not to feed the coyotes, a practice which makes them more comfortable around humans.

Andrew Davies snapped a photo of one of a pair of coyotes that were eyeing him and his dog Rufus but he said that’s something he’s willing to live with.

“Yeah, of course there’s a balance that needs to be kept but I just believe that every creature has at least as much right to be here as I do and I wouldn’t dream of culling them or anything like that,” he said.

DeBernardo wonders if the city’s hands-off policy for coyotes is coming at the expense of those who suffer the devastation of losing a beloved member of the family.

“I think it’s gone a little too far — the compassion — when they are stealing dogs and cats and pets,” he said. “I don’t think that people without dogs realize what they mean to us.”

No one from S.F. Animal Care and Control would go on camera Sunday but they responded by e-mail, saying:

“Coyotes have become a fact of life all across the country. There is no easy solution to controlling them.”

They also pointed out that the animals are protected by state law and only the Department of Fish and Wildlife can remove or relocate one.

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