What to do if you encounter coyotes while hiking in the Bay Area

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It’s hiking season, and in many areas of the Bay Area that can mean encountering coyotes, especially if you are walking with dogs. Here’s a rundown of what to do (and what not to do) if you encounter a coyote.

For starters, remember that when humans (and our four-legged friends) walk in natural areas, we are in a habitat shared with all kinds of wildlife, including coyotes. This is also their home, and seeing them roam around is normal, including during the day, even though they are mostly nocturnal. If they’re not causing a problem, just avoid them. (Never approach them or try to feed them.)


Video of a coyote at Wildcat Canyon in the East Bay area Video: Laila Weir

That said, most interactions with coyotes in urban areas result from the presence of a dog or food, according to the nonprofit Project Coyote. And with drought conditions inevitably making food and water harder to find, accounts of people seeing coyotes tend to proliferate (like a recent in Mountain View Voice).

Coyote attacks on pets are rare, and coyote attacks on humans are even rarer. Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to be killed by a stray golf ball or flying champagne cork than bitten by a coyote, according to the Humane Society.

A few simple steps can both help keep you and your pets safe, and keep wild coyotes out of trouble. Here are some tips compiled by the Humane Society, Project Coyote, and the Urban Coyote Research Project.

Do not feed the coyotes. Feeding wild animals can make them lose their fear of humans, which can eventually lead to aggressive behavior. It can be tempting to try and leave food for wild animals, especially during a drought, but teaching them to associate humans with food (or water) does them a disservice in the long run and may be. dangerous for pets and even children. In many cases, when humans bite, they were actually feeding the coyote. Do not offer them food or water, and do not leave any for them.

Avoid the coyotes. If you see a coyote during the day, they may have become accustomed to humans and are no longer afraid. If it doesn’t go away when you get close, especially in May, maybe it’s a matter of protecting a den. If possible, just change your route to avoid the area. Never corner a coyote.

Don’t let dogs (or children, for that matter) hunt or play with coyotes. While naturally shy, coyotes can also be curious and playful (much like dogs) and may also try to keep dogs away from dens, mates, or water and food sources. If you think you might encounter coyotes, keep your dog and young children closer than usual. If you see one, keep small children nearby or pick them up, leave dogs on a leash, or pick up small dogs.

Don’t run away from a coyote. If you are approached by a coyote, make and maintain eye contact with the animal, leave dogs on a leash or pick up smaller dogs and make noise. Shout, wave your arms, throw something at the coyote to make it go. If not, go calmly.

Report aggressive or extremely fearless coyotes. Restless and unprovoked barking, raised camails, growls, growls, and sudden movements are all signs of aggression in a coyote. In the unlikely event that you experience such behavior from a wild animal, contact your city’s animal control department.


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