Let’s Vex Us Some Coyotes!

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O'Shaugnessy Hollow, San Francisco

“Maybe they need to be tased.”

Ralph Montana was referring to people who let their dogs run off-leash in San Francisco’s coyote zones. I’m pretty sure he was joking. (More after the jump…)

I contacted Montana, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Manager for SF Recreation & Parks, after a hike I took a couple of weekends ago, when I randomly found myself in a tiny little park above Glen Canyon called “O’Shaughnessy Hollow.” It’s a great spot. Franciscan chert outcrops provide a sweeping view to the south, and down into nearby Glen Canyon Park.

View Spots Unknown Map in a larger map

There’s also some scrub meadow spread over 3.5 acres of hillside from Marietta Drive down to O’Shaughnessy Blvd. that very much resembles the terrain where a couple of coyotes live in GCP. But, unlike in GCP, there were no officially posted signs warning people to a coyote’s presence, and to keep dogs on a leash. So, naturally, when I encountered a local resident walking her dog (off-leash), I asked about spottings.

She said she’d seen coyotes up there. The question became: Are they the same as the ones in GCP, or is the species at large making a play for the entire canyon? (Also, this woman better hope she doesn’t encounter Ralph Montana.)

Montana thinks they are the same animals.

Despite the “pest” in his title and who he was dealing with, Montana described for me the City’s “coyote policy,” which seems reasonably humane, aimed at enabling coexistence.

Noteworthy are the tips on how to “vex” a coyote, a method defined thusly:

To harass a coyote; wave your arms, shout, make yourself appear larger. Throw small stones or sticks, use a super-soaker, blow a whistle or air horn, swing a walking stick, use a coyote shaker.

Supersoaker? Against a coyote? I see images of an unholy clone between Steve Irwin and PeeWee Herman ravaging the open spaces of SF. (Also, what the hell is a coyote shaker?)

Vexing does seem contrary to the goal of coexistence, but if the animals become too familiar with humans, then they start to hunt and live closer to homes, increasing the chances for conflict. Coyotes (unlike wolves) are not known to attack humans in these circumstances, but the risk of pets being bitten or killed is very real. And then, the sharpshooters get dispatched.

If you think this is only a problem for people who live near large parks or open spaces, think again. If it can happen in Russian Hill, it can happen anywhere.

Let’s all do our part to vex the coyotes, OK?

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