July 31, 2008
said coyote issues have been particularly bad over the last year at the
Headlands. Problems include coyotes chasing bikes, nipping at people,
running in front of cars, being fed by people and approaching hikers.
There have also been a few reports of coyotes nipping at people.
problems stem from human behavior. "It's when people feed and closely
approach the coyote that they get accustomed and habituated to it and
they approach more people," Merkle said. "That's the really dangerous
situation, when people are in close proximity to coyotes, which are
Mary Paglieri, a human-animal conflict
consultant, said the increasing number of bold coyotes is preventable
with human education. Current signs in the park tell visitors to not
feed and approach animals. Paglieri said the signs need to explain
more. "Essentially, you ruin the animal because it gets dependent on
human food and spends its time begging." Paglieri said she has asked
the park to help produce educational materials on the dangers of
feeding wildlife. Merkle said improved signs, education and outreach
are in the works.
GGNRA spokesperson Rich Weideman said it is
important the public understands coyotes are wild animals. "The worst
thing a person can do is feed an animal," Weideman said. The animal
stops fearing people and associates them with food.
of human interaction is coyotes coming out of the hills into populated
areas. Sausalito resident Susan Fletcher said putting out food for
other wildlife attracts coyotes. "People really need to be educated how
to live with wildlife."
Coyotes are particularly dangerous
around pets. Lisa Carmel, who lives in downtown Mill Valley, saw a
coyote carrying her neighbor's dead cat one recent morning. She said
she was surprised to see it in broad daylight, having never seen one
downtown before. Carmel said she has heard increasing reports of
coyotes and missing pets in her surrounding neighborhoods.
need to be coyote-aware, Merkle said, and do things that discourage
attracting coyotes. "We would recommend keeping pets inside,
particularly in the very early morning and early evening."
Coyotes are often drawn to fruit fallen off trees, open compost and accessible trash.