Keep a short leash; coyote safety meeting held in San Francisco

San Francisco Animal Care and Control says it has seen has an increased number of calls from citizens about coyote sightings.

On Wednesday night, it partnered with a wildlife expert along with SF Recreation and Parks Department to hold a community meeting to address concerns and educate the public at the County fair building in Golden Gate Park.

People attending the meeting say they've seen coyotes in their neighborhoods and want to know how to stay safe.

"They're beautiful animals to see, even in my own neighborhood.  I have no problem with that," says Ken Reuther.
He and his wife say they've seen coyotes in Bernal Heights and in their own Crocker Amazon neighborhood.  They're far from being alone.

One San Francisco man took these photos of a coyote he saw just last week in the Buena Vista neighborhood.
"There's nothing to be scared of.  They're very shy animals," says Keli Hendricks with Project Coyote.
Hendricks say when a coyote doesn't run away, it's not a sign of aggression, it's more curiosity.

Increased sightings during spring and summer are natural occurrences because it's pupping season.

"I'm more aware of what's going on around me," says Annette Tancredi.

She owns a small dog and says she keeps her pet on a leash.
She says she's spotted coyotes twice in recent weeks in her Corona Heights neighborhood, something she's never seen before during her 40 years living here.

"The large male walked up the street around noon time one day. He stopped and looked up at us on our balcony and decided we weren't a threat and just kept going," says Tancredi.

Wildlife experts say the recent rains have brought out more rodents and that's what coyotes feed on primarily.
"They are expanding their ranges . We're finding them in more places than before. Our cities offer great habitat for wildlife, which is a good thing because they do a great job of controlling rodents," says Hendricks.
The community meeting brought out citizens who are concerned and curious.

"I've seen a lot of missing pet posters; basically small dogs and cats’ posters pop up.  There are coyotes around and I wanted to keep my dog safe and behave appropriately around the wild animals that we have around," says Kimberly Mackoy, who lives in the Sunset.
Experts say keep your dogs on a leash and keep a close eye on your small pets and children.  If you feel threatened, make a loud noise.
"Usually all it takes is a, “Get out of here!’ says Hendricks as she slaps her thigh. “If they're coming a little too close and you're feeling like they're going to be aggressive towards you.”
Animal Care and Control estimates that there are dozens of coyotes living in the city, but fewer than one hundred.

Wildlife experts say the goal is to find ways to have the coyotes and people co-exist safely.