Possible coyote den in San Rafael; residents report multiple sightings

There have been multiple coyote sightings in San Rafael prompting wildlife experts to warn residents there may be a den of the wild animals living nearby.  

Most of the run-ins are happening around Peacock Gap Park and the golf course nearby. 

Just last week, a dog was bitten by a coyote and a resident reported her child was surrounded by coyotes while playing at the park. Dog walkers at the park Thursday morning said they've heard of at least four dogs being attacked by coyotes since the summer.

"We walk to the golf course and there's regular spots when we see coyotes now," David Allen told KTVU. "That wasn't always the case. Some of the women here are really kind of freaked out." 

A representative for Marin Humane Society told the Marin Independent Journal that they're ramping up efforts to educate the neighborhood because they believe there might be a den in the area. That could be why the coyotes seem to be more territorial. 

Experts say this is the time when pups born in the spring are going out into new territories.

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Coyotes are generally skittish and pose little threat to humans, but there have been rare attacks on humans and pets.

Residents are describing the coyotes in recent sightings as "aggressive." 

"In the last 30 days, I’ve seen six coyotes," said Bill Paterson. "It’s definitely not normal, not this extreme. We would see them every once in a while, everybody would, but you wouldn’t have this kind of determination by the coyote."

He said he's seen coyotes get in fights with dogs multiple times over the last few months.

Last month a group of agencies known as Marin Coyote Coalition held a webinar to teach residents how to coexist with coyotes.  

"If you get too close to a den, that’s where their young are, and they are very good parents, they’re very protective," Shannon Burke, an interpretive naturalist from Marin County Parks said on a YouTube video. "They will respond defensively. And sometimes this is directed at people, so if you get this body language you know that you’re too close to a den. But usually it’s directed at dogs." 

Wildlife activists say what humans might think is aggression, is the coyote likely being fearful. 

"They stop, they turn around and they look at you. And that often gets misperceived that the coyote is stalking me, they’re trying to get me. And what I’m trying to tell you is yes, they’re trying to trick you into thinking that that’s all going to happen, but it’s their natural defense mechanism," said Cindy Machado with Marin Humane during the webinar.

Experts say if you encounter a coyote, you should make loud noises and large motions to scare it away. This is known as an act called hazing, essentially teaching coyotes to be scared of humans and stay away from them. 

Report coyotes or the feeding of coyotes to Marin Humane at 415-883-4621.

More information on coyotes is here.