I headed to the Fort Mason Community Garden this evening to make videos of hummingbirds. There were just a few other people there: a garden member trimming a shrub, and a woman taking a walk with a toddler. I’d just gotten set up to film a hummingbird perched on a succulent when I heard the call: “Coyote! Coyote! Coyote!”
Sure enough, there was a coyote in the garden.
While they aren’t an everyday sight, Coyotes are firmly established in San Francisco. As of 2021, there were at least 15 Coyote territories in San Francisco. Each territory supports a family consisting of a breeding pair, yearlings, and the current litter. Fort Mason is on the western side of a territory stretching east through North Beach to the Ferry Building.
I’ve previously seen coyotes sleeping in the garden. There are some nice shady spots to nap sheltered from the urban life outside the garden walls. It looks like the fresh batch of straw bedding was piquing the coyote’s interest.
The coyote didn’t stay long. Maybe it was looking for a completely undisturbed nap. Soon enough, it was back on its feet and slipping through the fence to some hilly lawns where humans of San Franciscan gather to watch the sunset on warm days.
It seems the coyote had similar designs. It picked out a spot on top of a hill and hunkered down for a bit.
With all the people around, the coyote didn’t get particularly comfortable here either.
Watching people’s reactions to the coyote was almost as interesting as watching the coyote itself. You don’t expect to see a coyote in a park in the middle of the day. Many people didn’t notice until the coyote came within ten feet. Phone cameras were being wielded all over the place. A boy sat down for a pensive contemplation of the coyote.
Pet owners also had a mix of reactions. Some quickly gathered up their dogs (the right move). One walked up to the coyote, lapdog in tow (bad idea).
The coyote felt threatened by a large dog being walked towards it, and starting moving in to warn off the intruder. Bystanders suggested that dog and walker take a different route.
Eventually, the coyote had enough and headed for the exit. At this point its main priority was just getting out of there, whether or not there were people in the way. It wasn’t being aggressive; it just stopped caring about the humans cluttering the park, walking within feet of them as it headed towards a brushy hillside.
When I last saw the coyote, it was headed down a hill towards Off The Grid Fort Mason.