Reported today (July 16th): “Two coyotes shot to death in Golden Gate Park” – SF Gate
Why should you care? Why do I care?
For those that don’t live in the area a little background… the coyotes in Golden Gate Park are something new. Coyotes have recently repopulated portions of San Francisco after decades of absence. It was a huge mystery how coyotes made it back into such a densely populated area nearly undetected. It has been hypothesized that coyotes likely ventured into San Francisco from Marin by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, quite an amazing development. Over the past couple of years coyotes have been reported seen in open areas around San Francisco including the Presidio, Golden Gate Park and Bernal Heights.
“Yes, there really are urban coyotes.” – SF Gate
So what led up to the killing of these two coyotes? Golden Gate Park is one of the most active open areas in San Francisco and prime location for urban coyotes to take up residence. Unfortunately for coyotes, who normally prefer a bit more isolation, the park is criss crossed with numerous roads, paths and trails making co-existence with humans a challenge.
Sunday July 15th it was reported that “Coyotes attack dogs in Golden Gate Park“, a highly unusual occurrence. Upon news of the attack a lot of people had hoped for the best, in that a level headed approach would be taken to address the issue. To the shock of many here in San Francisco the coyotes were tracked overnight and killed. Not much dialogue, just quick thoughtless action.
Before this happened I was researching a series of recent news stories on animal attacks and how our modern society reacts in a very old society manner. The degree to which this recent event, where the coyotes were killed, upsets me is unfathomable. The perceived “aggressive” posturing was less likely about overt aggression and very likely about breeding and territory which there is very little of in the city. As I’ve learned such matters are under the control of the state department of Fish and Game and it was their call to track and destroy the coyotes.
Sadly our society has a poor track record in how wildlife is managed and it stems from a frontier mentality. A frontier mentality that is completely out of touch with the ways of a modern culture. Only recently have their been efforts to relocate animals versus eradicate them, but even still this is the exception not the rule. I find this sadly ironic since the California department of Fish and Games’ motto is “Conserving California’s Wildlife Since 1870”. I’m not sure how this action had anything to do with “conserving”.
As a society we continue to think of ourselves as being completely above our environment and the master of all animals rather than coexisting members of an ecosystem. Why have coyotes found their way back in to San Francisco? Because of an unchecked population of raccoons, skunk and rodents. For a coyote, even with the lack of open areas in the city, this provides an ample supply of food translating to favorable conditions to survive.
One of the strangest things about our society that contributes to this frontier mentality of killing animals that are deemed a nuisance or are perceived as a danger is the utter lack of education in this area. I’m not saying that those at the department of Fish and Wildlife are uneducated, I’m sure they are and truly want to do the right thing. Many urbanites have no familiarity with wildlife; not knowing what their behavior means or is tied to, not knowing how to react around wild animals, and not knowing when the highest likelihood of encounters are. This lack of education feeds the larger problem of poor policy decisions. If people don’t understand animals and their inter-relationship to one another (ourselves included) then how can there be sound public policy with such matters?
On the news this evening, ironically a report in which my wife was randomly interviewed because she was seen running with our dog (German Shepherd) in the park, it was reported that the reason the coyotes were shot versus relocated is because of their “aggressive” behavior and the overall liability assumed by the county if they were to attack someone else after relocation. Not only is this a pitiful excuse, but a sad reflection of our society. Over and over again I continually see reports on wildlife and human on human violence that show how little we as a society value life. With proper planning and wildlife management the “risk of liability” would be an afterthought if even a concern.
One thing our society has lost sight of as a result of the safeguards provided by our communities, civil services and technological advances is what it truly takes to survive in the wild. The odds of a new born animal to reach adult hood can range from 1 in 2 to as little as 1 in 1000 depending on the species. As it stands our expanding presence has pushed numerous species to the brink of existence as we continue to consume increasingly precious resources. If our society is to truly be considered modern we should be able to respect what little wildlife is left by planning and setting appropriate policies promoting healthy ecosystems (urban and rurual) that will minimize unnecessary killings, as exemplified by todays coyote killings in Golden Gate Park.
Interested in voicing your opinion on this matter?
Help change how wildlife is managed.
Write and call the Bay Delta regional manager of the Department of Fish & Game:
Acting Regional Manager
Chuck Armor, (707) 944-5517
7329 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558
Information: (707) 944-5500
FAX: (707) 944-5563
Write and call the California Director of the Department of Fish & Game:
L. Ryan Broddrick
(916) 653-7387 fax
Write and call the California Fish & Game Commission:
|California Fish and Game Commission|
|1416 Ninth Street|
|Sacramento, California 95814||(916) 653-4899|
[tags]coyote, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, department, fish and game, attack, wildlife, urban, policy [/tags]