The Presidio Brat

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Coyote Tale

Coyote, The Trickster, Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, New MexicoI have always felt that coyotes are a magical addition to the park. They are somehow proof that real nature is being nurtured here, and whenever I see one, I get a little thrill thinking that I’m living side-by-side with wildlife.
But of course wildlife is WILD -- and can be dangerous. It’s too early to identify a trend, but this recent report of coyote behavior makes me think we need to be much more careful around these animals.
coyote_on_golf_courseThis month, a couple was walking their dog near the golf course and they decided to wander onto the course. It was daylight. They were on the 7th hole when two coyotes came rushing out of the woods, charging their dog. The woman scooped the dog into her arms just in time – the coyotes were a mere three arms-length away. Their fangs were bared and one was hissing loudly.
coyote fangsYou’ve probably heard the advice to “make yourself larger” and “make a lot of noise” in an attempt to scare animals away, and the couple did that -- but the coyotes did not retreat. Instead, they began to circle the couple. The Trust pamphlet on coyotes says that these animals avoid human contact but that they will go after dogs. And perhaps they wanted the dog, who was still in her owner’s arms. But they went after the humans, following them for several long, frightening minutes, circling and moving closer despite the couple’s yelling. Even after the couple made their “escape,” the coyotes stood there watching them. It goes without saying that the couple was very shaken up.
This incident was reported to the Trust, and one of their responses was to send out their pamphlet to residents again. While it contains good advice,at least one piece of information should be taken with caution:
“Typically they are timid animals with a natural fear of humans.”
coyote pupsThe pamphlet also states that coyotes may be more “active” from January to May, which is their pupping season. I presume this is because feeding young pups puts more demands on their hunting skills. So while coyotes may generally be afraid of humans, some are not, and those “some” happen to live on the Presidio. Maybe we’re finally learning what the Ohlone already knew: that humans will always have complicated relationships with these trickster dogs.
So please be careful, especially when walking your pet.