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]
Jim, I have to agree with you. I’ll be composing a letter to send to the Fish & Game addresses you mention above. It’s truly unfortunate that our society is so quick to kill what it simply does not understand. I think you nailed it when you said, “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.”
KTVU news report on the killing of the two coyotes in Golden Gate Park (featuring my wife)
David I’m glad that my article was informative. I hope more people contact the Fish & Game department about this.
What bugs me is the language used by the TV station. Among other things, they referred to the coyote encounters as “shocking”. Everything’s gotta be hyped up today, and it’s disgusting. It’s no wonder TV news is losing viewers in droves. They fully deserve it for skewing and hyping everything.
If a coyote encounter in a big public park full of vegetation is shocking, what’s next? An encounter with a deer becomes life-threatening? A squirrel on the sidewalk becomes a psychological scar? Where does the insanity (or rather, stupidity) stop? What in the world do people expect to see when they go out into nature?
Raoul the TV sensationalism is a topic unto itself.
What disturbs me more is the adopted practice of tracking the “apparent” culprit(s) and then killing them. These coyotes were assumed to be the two in question with out any proof. This is a practice followed for every animal attack that is questionable in its effectiveness at best. Once an animal is killed token or actual culprit (it doesn’t matter) the mania surrounding an attack then subsides. The reality is that nothing is different other than there being a dead animal. The larger problem of uninformed people and invaded habitat persists. It’s a real problem that needs to be addressed.
Liability and lawsuits – it is sad enough to see what the impact of these two things have on the way we all interact with each other. But we are one sad civilization are we when these are also used to justify killing wildlife. I really wish people would be more creative in coming up with solutions to living within our environment instead of simply forcing our will upon it.
Mark… you and me both. I’ve been playing phone tag with the Regional Manager of the Fish & Game. As soon as I have a conversation with him I’ll report back on this. As a society there needs to be a more responsible way of interacting with the ecosystems we occupy. Even though mankind has developed higher level thinking its a shame we fall prey to our laziness when it comes to things like this. Liability is just an excuse to not have to deal with it.
I have to completely agree on all accounts. These actions by fish and game were outright deplorable.
I’m one of those weirdos who thinks that animals born and raised wild should have a set of rights. With our level of sophistication as a species, I feel it’s our responsibility to treat such animals with respect, and destroying these animals for their natural behavior is not respectful. I wouldn’t be able to look down a scope at such a beatiful creature and pull the trigger anyhow, so I guess that sums up how I feel about the subject. (Of course, a telephoto and shutter trigger is a different matter entirely!)
There are plenty of places they could have been sedated, and relocated to where they would have never seen another human, or domestic dog for the remainder of their lives.
Well, I just read a few follow up articles, in which it seems most people agree with us, and there is a good amount of upset over the incident.
And as if we needed further evidence that this was a knee-jerk overreaction, a 5 month old pup was found dead, run over by a car very close to where they killed the two adults, just days afterward.
So, they didn’t even trail them enough to find out that they might be defending their young is my thought. Kinda makes their claim of “if we had relocated them, they might have starved!” seem pretty stupid.
Thank you for bringing this story to my attention, Jim. I’ve sent emails off to both of the addresses you listed.
Pingback: Landscape Photography and Nature Photography by Jim M. Goldstein - JMG-Galleries - Coyote Encounter
Pingback: Landscape Photography and Nature Photography by Jim M. Goldstein - JMG-Galleries - Coyotes Killed in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Update
Here it is Jan. 2, 2008 and I’m just coming into this story. I left the country this July 17 actually-came back mid August, and never heard a thing more about the coyotes.I live near the park and only learned about the coyote tracking on Christmas night, ironically from two out of towners.I’m very angry about the lack of dialog concerning the coyotes. SF Chron had bits and bobs on them prior to this summer, but it came across like a curiosity piece or urban legends. Not one official was on record for this REALLY happening. Why wasn’t anyone within City government working on solutions?
I was out in the woods with the US Forest Service in late 70s -early 80s. I know all about coyotes-even spooked one by accident. No person or their dog in GG Park needed protection from coyotes. We failed the coyotes; they needed our protection. It’s really hard to be an activist even on local issues. Thank you to all who help.
Animals are also have their life.It is absolutely that they are getting killed like that.There should be proper making of law & the proper implementation in their favour.Thanks for sharing such informative but with with heartbreaking news post.