The picture, which is rife with palpable paradox, was taken in 2022 — but serves as an evergreen reminder of when Coyote popping season begins in San Francisco.
During the peak of the Covid-19-spun lockdowns in 2020, the streets of San Francisco became barren and desolate, void of both human and automobile traffic. It was that initial emptiness that prompted the City to create the Slow Streets Program in April of that same year, which has since created over two dozen car-free corridors across the seven-by-seven. A frequent visitor on these pro-pedestrian roadways? Coyotes.
As is the case with undomesticated fauna, coyotes are, generally speaking, far more afraid of us than we are of them. But come pupping season — the coyote breeding and rearing period that usually begins in late March and lasts until November — the chance of a happenstance coyote encounter is greatly increased as males and females seek mates and den sites.
It’s why signage alerting passersby of such a potential encounter dot San Francisco this time of year. But perhaps the most salient, ostensibly most assertive PSA regarding the matter was captured by Stephen Riffle in April of 2022 when he took a picture of a lone coyote walking right past a “Coyote Awareness” sign in Golden Gate Park.
“Rumor has it there are coyotes in this park…,” Riffle tweeted on April 2nd of last year, followed by the image of a sizable coyote casually walking in front of a sign alerting park-goers of increased coyote activity. The juxtaposition of the canine’s presence and the placement of the sign is almost too good to be true.
While it’s unclear exactly how many coyotes call San Francisco home — as of publishing, there are no local collar tracking projects or field count studies currently being conducted around the animals — San Francisco Animal & Control estimates dozens of the 40lb canines all the City By the Bay home. There’s anecdotal evidence that their population in SF is increasing based on the growing number of coyote incidents/sightings being reported annually.
This could also, by proxy, suggest these animals have become more comfortable around humans and their synthetic constructions — a means of acclimation associated with any animal species that continues to survive in a world defined by the existence of hominids.
While coyotes pose little to no threat to us bipeds, it’s worth mentioning that you should never approach any wild animal. Don’t offer them food; don’t throw things at them nor abuse them in any sort of way; don’t be an ass-hat to them, and they’ll happily leave you alone.
However, should you see one of these lanky pseudo-dogs while walking your pup, make sure to keep your four-legged best friend close, preferably on a leash, to your side. (Coyotes have been known to prey on domestic cats and dogs.)
Maybe next time you do pass a Coyote Awareness sight, perhaps pause for a second or two or ten to sponge up the text it contains.
Feature image: Courtesy of Twitter via [at]EyaSpectre