In March 2012, I heard on the police scanner that there was a confrontation between two unleashed pit bulls and Coyotes in Golden Gate Park. I thought about what I heard for a day and conducted some research. One day later I went to the location of that scene. I will not disclose the location, but through some of my pictures you may figure it out. I wanted to keep it a secret because what I was about to experience became one of the most precious photographic adventures of my life, and I wanted that preserved, and additionally society has been cruel and unkind to Coyotes in urban areas, especially parks. This park is one of San Francisco’s biggest parks, and is home to many different species of wildlife. People walk their pet dogs there, and parents and their children enjoy it as their own. What I was about to experience has been a dream come true. I will post throughout this blog the many different confrontations and opportunities that I experienced when photographing Urban Coyotes. I have produced a story on Yahoo’s Voices site and have uploaded numerous pictures on Flickr just so society or the public knows how precious Coyotes are to our world.
Coyote; aka American Jackal, Prairie Wolf, or “Canis Latrans” are now living in, or den-ing in urban areas including San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. There are 10 confirmed Coyotes in the city limits of San Francisco.
And recently unleashed pet dog’s are being taunted and or harassed by Coyotes who are protecting their den. This video shows a Rottweiler facing off with Coyotes. The Rottweiler was unleashed.
In the city of St. Francis(San Francisco) who was the “patron saint of animals” all animals are welcome; however in the 2010 census indicates pet dogs now outnumber children.
As a photographer and animal lover I started hanging out and photographing the Coyotes in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. While hanging out and talking with pet dog owners, and people who do not own pet dogs, I discovered that attitudes about Coyotes in Golden Gate Park varied. For instance on the weekend of Bay to Breakers I over-heard men say they “would chase the Coyote down with sticks and kill them if they taunted or harassed their dogs.” Other comments I have heard were that the Coyotes should be protected at all costs and they should be afforded more right’s to exist in urban areas than pet dogs. In 2007 federal authorities were called in to shoot two Coyotes who had lived in that park, so the city mobilized, and according to the website “Project Coyote” they started “emphasizing co-existence.”
Animal Care and Control went so far as to issue a stern written statement about the Coyotes in Golden Gate Park. San Francisco Health Code 41.12 states it is “unlawful for the owner or guardian of any animal, other than a domestic cat, to permit said animal to run at large within the City and County.” Violating that code can result in a fine and or confiscation of the animal. By the way it is illegal to relocate and or trap wildlife in that park.
While hanging out and photographing the Coyotes in Golden Gate Park I was nipped at and jumped on by unleashed pet dogs, but I sat down ten feet from a Coyote and was never attacked nor taunted by the Coyote. As a matter of fact it seemed, me and the Coyote bonded.
Co-existence is possible with a little respect and caring, and according to the website Project Coyote “education, science and advocacy” will help citizens of San Francisco understand that we must all co-exist. This is the city of St. Francis and living here means we should try to enjoy and nurture the wildlife that lives in our city.
There are many resources for citizens to learn how to co-exist with the wildlife including “Project Coyote” http://projectcoyote.org/index.html
And San Francisco Animal Care and Control Department. http://www.sfgov2.org/index.aspx?page=1056
It is also recommended that we as people try to avoid feeding the wildlife especially Coyotes because they can get the same illnesses and diseases as pet dogs.
When I came face to face with the Coyotes in Golden Gate Park, I never felt scared nor threathened, and at all times I felt I was in the presence of the World’s smartest canine species. I have uploaded many videos on Youtube that show they just mind their own business and just interested in eating and taking care of their young.(pups)
Newborn Coyotes are called pups. They are self-regulating which means they will only have as many pups are the area can handle. In other words, if the area is small and lack’s an abundant food supply they will have fewer pups. They can have anywhere between 3-12 pups. The female parent chooses the birth den, and the male parent is not aloud in that den until they are ready to eat solid food. At the point the male parent steps in and feeds them by regurgerating the food he ate during the day. The pups are born blind, and must drink milk from the female parents milk supply. After 12 weeks they move the den into another location. When the Coyotes know they will have pups and during the time they are raising them they become very protective. They are some of the best parents in the world. That’s one reason why they confront unleashed pet dogs.
I knew where the den was located after the pups were born and I discovered the den after the 12 week period. So after the 12 week period I hung out in the area everyday sometimes for 8 hours a day just waiting to catch a glimpse of the pups.
Keep in mind Golden Gate Park is a deadly place to be, for instance a man had been found dead in a location near the Coyote den, SFGate or The Chronicle published a report about that scene. The link is here >>>>Man Found Dead in Golden Gate Park<<<
He was not killed by Coyotes by possible by natural means or by one of the many transients that inhabit that park. But I seized on this opportunity and stuck with it, and what I was about to capture was literally a dream come true.
I documented many of the confrontations and experiences I had while photographing Urban Coyotes, Facebook, and Twitter.
In this encounter the male parent checks me out. I noticed him foraging for food. I sat down, and he got closer and closer until he was 10 feet from me, and then I snapped this photo. Coyote Encounter #1
During this photo opportunity of the young pups, the female parent had snuck up on me and walked right by me. That photo was taken while I was on a golf course, which was tough because the course is used constantly all day and I had to get into position between gholfers.
In this photo the female parent is merely 20 feet from me, and she just wanted to eat, and go about her business.
A constant thread is the fact that I either picked the photos where the Coyotes were looking at me, or the Coyotes were actually looking at me.
According to the group Project Coyote Coyotes are a keystone species, which means “a species whose presence and role within an ecosystem has a disproportionate effect on other organisms within the system. A keystone species is often a dominant predator whose removal allows a prey population to explode and often decreases overall diversity,” so in my opinion we should learn to co-exist with Coyotes. Instead of lashing out and shooting them. Since people are living in areas previously inhabitated by wildlife, steps can be taken to prevent Coyotes from impacting or causing harm to your lives and pets, and according to Project Coyote co-existence can be achieved through “education, science and advocacy.”