San Francisco considering ways to defang coyote clashes 

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Coyote sightings in San Francisco could be posted online and mapped out under a management plan that also would include an educational campaign and tips on how to coexist with the animals.

The City does not know the exact number of coyotes here, but there have been repeated sightings in the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Diamond Heights and Glen Canyon, among other areas. Yet unlike other cities and communities nationwide, San Francisco has no management plan to deal with the critters.

That would change under a proposal backed by Sally Stephens, a director with the Commission of Animal Control and Welfare. Stephens wants to combine educational outreach with online information about coyote sightings.

The educational component would include the best techniques for “hazing” — a method of shooing away coyotes. The animals are usually docile and reclusive, but when they become comfortable around people — usually a product of being fed regularly —problems arise, Stephens said.

In 2007, officials from the California Department of Fish and Game were forced to shoot two coyotes in Golden Gate Park after the animals repeatedly harassed and attacked nearby pets. In 2008, officials had to put down a coyote in the Presidio for similar behavior.

The management plan would inform residents of measures to take to avoid those outcomes.

Also, if conflicts with coyotes do arise, The City would have a coordinated plan to deal with the problem, instead of the ad hoc responses that have marked past incidents, Stephens said.

She is working with Project Coyote, a Marin-based organization that has helped craft management plans in other urban areas. Gina Farr, communications director for the organization, said each city needs a plan unique to its situation.

One contentious issue is the posting of coyote sightings online. The mapping could prove useful for residents, but Farr said there are concerns people could use the information to harm coyotes. However, Farr said because San Francisco has a history of tolerance toward animals, she is confident the online database would be a plus.

On Thursday, Stephens will present the management proposal to the animal commission. The plan and its components, including potential costs and funding sources, could be approved for recommendation by the commission. The commission’s recommendations are not binding, but often help influence decisions by the Board of Supervisors.

The Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas recently approved a coyote management plan that includes an online reporting program. Daniel Pankau of the city’s environmental services division said the plan has been instrumental in helping residents peacefully coexist with coyotes.

Seen in The City

Coyote sightings in San Francisco have been reported in these neighborhoods and areas:

Golden Gate Park

Glen Canyon Park

The Presidio

Bernal Heights

Diamond Heights

Twin Peaks

McLaren Park

Lake Merced

Sources: Department of Animal Care and Control, news reports

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Will Reisman

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