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

Bernal Coyote Scared But Safe After Close Call With Dog

Bernal Coyote, hiding in a thicket after the chase. Photo by Janet Kessler

The coyote that lives on Bernal Hill had a close call last week, after a domesticated dog decided to chase her. The ensuing scene was so loud and chaotic that several readers wrote to tell Bernalwood about it, so we in turn reached out to San Francisco coyote-whisperer Janet Kessler to see if he had any information about the incident.

Providentially, Janet was on the scene when the dog chased the Bernal Coyote, and Janet shared this report:

The coyote had just spent a few moments on a peaceful grassy perch where she was observing the urban world as she knew it: the large city below and the dog walkers on and off the trails of a grassy park higher up. She got up to wander around the hillside when suddenly a dog caught sight of her and was after her in a flash — it was a large, golden retriever-like dog.

The coyote ran lickety-split away from the dog, into the street with the dog right at her heels. In the street, of course, both coyote and dog are endangered by traffic, but fortunately cars were sparse at that moment. Having flown across the street, the coyote dashed into the thicket on the other side of the street. Thickets serve as harborage for our wild coyotes, especially from dogs and people. It’s where they can rest and relax without being seen, and when the thickets are impenetrable, coyotes feel safe. Dogs usually can’t, or have difficulty, venturing into these thickets, so the dog remained on the street where the owner was able to grab it.

In the thicket, with her eyes glued in the direction of the dog, the little coyote vented her distress. She remained there and screeched her heart out for 20 minutes, looking over her shoulder now and then as dogs, people and loud traffic moved by on the next street. This is what she sounded like:

When she was done, she got up and walked away. I followed the coyote to make sure she wasn’t injured. I knew the dog hadn’t reached her, so she would have no injuries from his/her mouth. It wasn’t an “attack” but simply a harrowing “pursuit”. Still, I’ve seen coyotes injured in the past as they fled pursuing dogs. One such coyote limped for days, having twisted or injured an ankle or wrist in its hurry to get away. Luckily, the Bernal coyote displayed no signs of any injuries.

I also spoke to a dog-walker, Patrice, who said she had witnessed two motor scooters pursuing this same little coyote up and down the streets several weeks ago. It must have been another harrowing experience for the coyote. Did these humans not know how cruel they were being? What might be considered fun and games for us and our dogs is actually a matter of life and death for this little coyote. Please help stop this kind of activity whenever you notice it!

PHOTO AND VIDEO: Courtesy of Janet Kessler from Coyote Yipps

The Bernal Coyote Is Alive and Well and Enjoying Dry Weather

The rains have subsided, and the Bernal Coyote seems excited about that. In the last few days, Bernalwood readers have shared many photos of the Bernal Coyote out and about on Bernal Hill, taking in the sights, wandering through the grass, and generally being rather photogenic.

The photos up above were captured  by Neighbor Chris, as the Bernal Coyote strolled through her urban oasis.

Neighbor Sig snapped this photo yesterday as well:

Neighbor Dena has turned her attention from rainbows to wildlife, and along the way she took this picture of the Bernal Coyote in what could have been a pose for an LL Bean mail-order catalog:

And finally, Neighbor Hope spotted the Bernal Coyote savoring the sun in the community garden just below Bernal Hill:

So amazing! Just remember: As much as we love the Bernal Coyote, it’s up to us to help keep her safe. Do not love her too much. Respect her space, and DO NOT FEED HER. For more expert advice on how to co-exist with the Bernal Coyote, please read this.

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

Get to Know This Butterfly, Photographed Atop Bernal Hill

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Neighbor Chris did some butterfly spotting atop Bernal Hill recently, and he shared the results of his spottery with Bernalwood:

An Anise Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio zelicaon) pauses and warms its wings in the eighty-degree mid-afternoon heat, against the Sutrito Tower fence.

(NOTE: For best results, try reading the above while wearing a pith helmet and whispering excitedly into a microphone.)

Here’s a close-up of our local specimen:

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As for Papilla zelicaon, the Wikipedia sayeth:

Papilio zelicaon, the anise swallowtail, is a common swallowtail butterfly of western North America. Both the upper and lower sides of its wings are black, but the upper wing has a broad yellow stripe across it, which gives the butterfly an overall yellow appearance. There are striking blue spots on the rear edge of the rear wing, and the characteristic tails of the swallowtails. Its wingspan is 52–80 mm. Its body is somewhat shorter than the rather similar western tiger swallowtail, with which its range overlaps; it also lacks the black stripes, converging toward the tail, of the latter […]

The anise swallowtail is a butterfly of fairly open country, and is most likely to be seen on bare hills or mountains, in fields or at the roadside. It is often seen in towns, in gardens or vacant lots.

The usual range of the anise swallowtail extends from British Columbia and North Dakota at its northern extreme, south to the Baja California Peninsula and other parts of Mexico. It is occasionally reported from the southeastern United States, but its normal range does not extend east of New Mexico. In all the more northerly parts of the range, the chrysalis hibernates.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Chris Frieber

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