The Good Old Days, when San Francisco was only going to the dogs


Nice doggie, don’t bite Yorkie, I mean it now!

Before 2007, San Francisco was blissfully going to the dogs. Gavin Newsom,  arguably the worst mayor in the city’s history, was still trying to heal all the world’s injustices, from discrimination against same-sex couples to climate change, while cheerfully neglecting the problems immediately beneath his nose: a Muni without clocks, a pox of potholes, a horde of aggressive panhandlers, and the needle-strewn waste that Golden Gate Park was becoming.

Then the coyotes came.

Wildlife experts believe they wandered up the coast from the Peninsula or trotted across the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Presidio. From there, they wandered into Golden Gate Park and into Glen Canyon, attracted by a variety of food sources, including rats, reptiles, garbage, insects, fallen fruit and the occasional housepet.

When a pair of coyotes attacked two dogs being walked in Golden Gate Park, wildlife regulators arrived at the common-sense conclusion that the male and female posed an imminent threat. So officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture shot and killed the coyotes near Speedway Meadow. Since this is San Francisco, all hell broke loose. From reading letters to the editor of the Chronicle, you’d think that St. Francis himself had been shot. In fact, his name was mentioned frequently.

This being California, hitting the feral pests with a tranquilizer dart, and taking them for a one-way ride out of town isn’t an option, either, State law prohibits the relocation of healthy wildlife, even from cities. Experts say relocations often botched, injure the animal, can leave behind orphans and expose the evicted creature to unknown predators, disease and unfamiliar surroundings.

So, given the fact that coyotes have been sighted more often recently in places frequented by humans and their dogs, what is the official response from the City of San Francisco? You guessed it: Ban humans and their dogs.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced that it will close trails near JFK Drive. The trails nearest to the north and middle lakes and the bison enclosure will be off-limits to all dogs, possibly until August. Joggers will also be cautioned against visiting the area.

Further anti-people, pro-coyote pap can be found in a recent press release from San Francisco Animal Control dated May 2,

Animal Care & Control Concerned About Coyote Interactions

San Francisco – San Franciscans do not seem to be getting the message about how to coexist peacefully with local wildlife. San Francisco Animal Care & Control has been notified about individuals who still allow their dogs illegally off -leash in active coyote areas despite education, posters, flyers, signs and barriers all warning dog owners to abide by the law and keep their dogs on-leash or, better yet, avoid the marked areas entirely. These irresponsible individuals are putting themselves, their dogs, and the coyotes and their pups at great risk (Italics mine. Notice how quick the city is to blame humans for wanting to take themselves, their children, and their pets to the park for a little recreation.)   Accordingly, after seeking expert advice and in collaboration with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, San Francisco Animal Care & Control suggested closure of locations in Golden Gate Park where coyotes appear to be anxiously protecting dens.

The press release continues:  Birthing and pup rearing has the local coyotes feeling hormonally more protective which may result in more assertive behavior (as in this   video). Our goals are to give coyote families temporary relief from stress (dogs) while ensuring public safety. Preventing confrontations such as this is the best policy.

Experts claim that aggressive coyote behavior is most prevalent during pupping season, which typically runs from April through August, which are some of the best times to visit the park. Maybe you can have the park back for the nice weather in September and October, as well as the crappy weather between November and the next pupping season.

Of course, creatures that are thriving tend to multiply. On the second floor of San Francisco’s animal control offices, a map of the city is dotted with pushpins, each one marking a coyote sighting. For quite a while, the dots were clustered in Golden Gate Park, the Presidio and Glen Canyon. But recently, the points are spreading eastward into Bernal Heights, the Haight and Russian Hill.

When will the citizens of San Francisco finally decide that enough is enough? I doubt if that will happen anytime soon. Recently, a woman walked her puppy near Christopher Playground in Diamond Heights, where packs of coyotes have been seen. She said she has never a coyote there herself, and isn’t as worried about her dog being attacked by one as she is about careless San Franciscans endangering the intruding coyotes.

That sounds like a typical sentiment to me. Sheep have always been some of coyotes’ favorite victims.


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