Is Another Coyote Now Visiting Bernal Heights?

The original Bernal Coyote playing on Bernal Hill a few days ago. Photo by Janet Kessler

Yesterday Bernalwood received several reports of a confused-looking coyote spotted in parts of Bernal Heights where coyotes are not usually seen. The reports described a coyote walking on Mission Street near the intersection with Cortland, and on Cortland near Anderson in front of Fit Bernal Fit.

Of course, those are very different locations from the usual stomping grounds of the Bernal Coyote, a female coyote who lives rather stylishly in the wilds around the summit of Bernal Hill.

Did yeterday’s sightings involve the same coyote? Or has another coyote arrived in our Bernal lands? To find out, Bernalwood reached out to Janet Kessler, the San Francisco coyote whisperer who runs the  wonderful Coyote Yipps website, for insight.

Janet tells Bernalwood:

There were sightings of a coyote going down Ellsworth yesterday, and a few minutes later, at 7:30 am, someone drove up to tell me that that they had seen a coyote going down Bocana.  Although I have not seen this new coyote, I can confirm that it is not the *one* on the hill, as I had just seen ours, and there is no way she could have run that far, and back, to be playing ball on the hill about one minute later.

These two coyotes’ paths did not cross this morning. I don’t know if they’ve met. But, I can tell you that over the last three days, *the* Bernal Coyote has been extremely excited and happy, playing unceasingly, and, unfortunately, even chasing cars (though it appears to be for simply the thrill and for fun rather than due to feeding). Her car-chasing had been curtailed almost entirely, I believe as a result of our efforts to clean food off of the street and talking to everyone about the detriments of feeding and being friendly.

The Bernal Hill coyote’s excitement over the last few days could be a result of another coyote’s arrival  — I can’t think of a another reason for the sudden change in her behavior. Or, it could just be a coincidence. Bernal neighbors, please keep us posted if you see another coyote around the hill.

Bernal Coyote Hit By Car, But Recovers Quickly

Last Sunday, the Bernal Coyote was hit by a car on Bernal Heights Boulevard. Ack! That’s the bad news. The good news, according to San Francisco coyote-whisperer Janet Kessler, is that the coyote wasn’t badly injured. Janet tells Bernalwood:

These days the Bernal Coyote has been spending the bulk of her time hunting now instead of panhandling. She still travels up the street and still sometimes approaches cars, however much less frequently than previously. Removing the garbage and food left on the street each morning and talking to people seem to be paying off.

On Sunday a neighbor told me the coyote had been hit by a car.

I spotted the coyote on the hill and immediately noticed something wrong: Something wasn’t right with her balance, and she lay down and closed her eyes. That wasn’t normal behavior for this time of day for her. IF she lies down in the morning, her head bobs up continually as she scans the environment. But on Sunday she wasn’t doing this.

Then a dog found her and chased her and the coyote ran off as best she could, but she tumbled head over heels down the embankment with her limbs flying in all directions. Finally she reached the street and stood there. She was able to trot several hundred feet further down the road, but she was stiff, and her body kept buckling under her:

She was able to catch herself and not fall to the ground. She probably couldn’t keep trotting, possibly because of the pain, so she chose the closest safe-place around, which was up.  She made it up the cliff, wobbling and buckling at several points, but not falling. Then she settled down at the top of the hill, mostly hidden by the grasses.

We called Animal Care and Control (ACC) and they sent one person out.

That wasn’t enough to catch a coyote, so he called two more people out. Unfortunately they were not effective and the coyote ran off and was able to evade them. ACC would not try again, saying that she was *mobile* so they were going to leave it.

The next day, I saw her walking on the sidewalk and hunting by herself, She was limping a little on her back leg, but I also saw saw her leap high during her hunt. She’ll be fine. I think she is healing on her own quite well.

PHOTO: Bernal Coyote the day after the accident, courtesy of Janet Kessler from Coyote Yipps

The Bernal Hill Coyote Is a Female and Human “Kindness” Could Kill Her

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Janet Kessler, the San Francisco coyote whisperer who runs the  wonderful Coyote Yipps website, has been keeping an eye on the coyote that lives on Bernal Hill.

After some observation, Janet has noticed some disturbing signs that the coyote is in danger — and the problems stem from people who are putting her at risk with misguided “kindness.” Janet explains what this means in this special contribution to Bernalwood:

AN UPDATE ON THE BERNAL COYOTE

In case you haven’t heard, the Bernal Hill coyote is most definitely a “she!”

Almost all Bernal Hill visitors love her. How could anyone ask for a more congenial neighbor! She’s good natured, photogenic, good-willed and fun-loving. She knows how to entertain herself. I watched her play exuberantly with a stick several times within the span of an hour.

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Some people love the Bernal Coyote so much that they are literally throwing “kindness” at her. However, the “kindness” she’s being showered with is actually cruel. Unintentionally so, but nonetheless cruel: it’s hurting her tremendously.

Feedingthe Bernal Coyote is bad enough, but feeding her from cars is detrimental. As a result, she’s now out in the streets, approaching cars, stopping traffic, and even just hanging out there. Please remember: the last Bernal Hill coyote was killed by a car.

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A few days ago I witnessed her run repeatedly to a bluff overlooking the road whenever she heard a certain type of truck go by. A couple of people said that two months ago they witnessed someone in a white truck deposit food for her. I saw her run towards a coffee cup as it was tossed from a car window — she was expecting food.

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When cars stop on the road to observe her, she often hurries down the hill to the car. And I witnessed her chasing four separate cars, one after the other. Her motive would be the expectation of food. She would only expect food if she has been given it in the past. Witnesses have seen her being fed from car windows. By feeding her, people have “trained” or “food conditioned” her (rewarded her behavior with food) to come down into the streets. It will be much harder to break this behavior than it was to start it.

She has also been coming in towards walkers, again in the hopes for food. This scares some people. If she’s expecting food, she could start closing the gap and nudging people for what she wants. A spooked human may startle her and she may react with a self-protective nip. Although dogs are allowed their first bite free, this is not true of coyotes. If she bites a human, she’s dead. This is why, “a fed coyote is a dead coyote.”

Some folks are being overly “friendly” towards the coyote. Dogs with their owners sit and commune with her only 15 feet apart. This, also, is an unkind thing to do. It’s important not to be so friendly, not to engage physically or psychologically with her. Rather, be neutral if you can and always walk away from her. You are not respecting her wildness by engaging with her or by allowing your dog to interact/engage with her in any way.

On the bright side, this little female does not seem territorial: she does not defend her space against intruder dogs. The reason for this is that she’s a loner who does not claim a territory, she’s not a member of a family. Nonetheless, if and when she hooks up with a mate — coyotes mate for life — her mate will be territorial. Male coyotes can be very protective and jealous of dogs getting too close to their mates or pups. By respecting her wildness and giving her plenty of space, we can maintain a balance for coexistence which will work.

What to do now? First, DO NOT FEED THE COYOTE — EVER! Second, become an ambassador for the Bernal Coyote: If you see anyone giving her food, speak to them about what is needed for the well-being of the coyote. If the person resists, report them to the police; It’s actually against the law to feed wildlife.

The Bernal Coyote will the one who pays the price for humans’ misguided “deeds of kindness.” Please — please! — never feed her, be as neutral and uninterested towards her as possible, and always walk away from her, don’t engage her with your dog or talk to her. If she persists in coming closer to you, spook her away by picking up a small stone and heaving it towards her (not at her so as to actually hurt her, just towards her), and keep walking away. The Bernal Coyote’s behavior is not her fault; it’s our fault.

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PHOTOS: All photos by Janet Kessler of Coyote Yipps

Goats Gone Wild in Bernal Heights

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Neighbor Teal shared this story about a group of rebellious goats that walked off the job in northeast Bernal Heights last week:

Ten goats escaped from their keeper and wandered around on Bernal Hill, munching on the trees and potted plants along Brewster until a resident herded them up around the side of her house. Presumably City Grazing picked them up from there.

I was driving my car full of dogs from my last pickup on Holladay to my dog daycare business on Peralta, when I came upon the goats walking around in the street. I pulled over and tried to prevent them from being hit by cars for about an hour before that resident took charge of them!

I called 311 and they connected me to ACC, who called City Grazing. Meanwhile, the goats went about their goat business, munching on anything remotely edible, and relieving themselves copiously in the street.

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PHOTOS: Neighbor Teal via @gooddogplaycare

Reminder: Please Do NOT Feed the Bernal Hill Coyote

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This week Neighbor Rachel noticed that someone has been leaving dog food out for our coyote neighbor who lives around Bernal Hill.

We saw the coyote eating the dog food. It was on the southern side of the hill. I was in my car watching, and a runner came by and we both watched him eat. Argh!

Photo evidence:

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Argh, indeed. That’s not good.

Please take a moment to re-read the comprehensive Guide to Sharing Bernal Hill With Our Coyote, where you find this admonition:

Please don’t feed the Bernal coyote. Feeding breaks down the barrier that keeps coyotes wild. If they become food-conditioned — which is different from “habituation” — big problems can develop, including approaching people, which increases the chances for negative incidents to occur. Feeding coyotes also encourages them to hang around yards, where people don’t want them.

To feed the coyote is to create additional risk for the coyote and increase the chances that our co-habitation of shared urban spaces will end badly. Please, please, do not feed the Bernal coyote.

PHOTOS: Photos, and photo annotations, courtesy of Neighbor Rachel

Raccoon Family Conducts Home Invasion Training Exercise at Bernal Home

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The noise outside the open window sounded like a strange communication of peeps and growls, as if a small group of feral R2-D2s were huddling to plot their next move. And indeed, they were.

When your Bernalwood editor turned on the back yard floodlights to look outside a few days ago, we interrupted a mama raccoon just as she was instructing her four cubs on the proper technique used to invade my home and plunder our pantry.

Although our stylish coyote gets all the headlines, Bernal Heights is also a thriving habitat for raccoons, and raccoons are shitty neighbors. They’re smart, they’re fearless, they work in teams, and they have digits that approximate opposable thumbs. They’re also rather cute, which is why some wags prefer to call them “trash pandas.”

Anyway, when Bernalwood turned the lights on, Mama Raccoon gave a pissed-off look that said “Ugh. Can’t you see we we’re working here???”

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics