Urban Wildlife: It’s More Than Rats and Roaches

A lot of people don’t realize that just because we live in a city that there isn’t some real wildlife you can find here. Sure, we’ve got raccoons and skunks and the occasional possum or opossum where the “O” is silent, but we also have a few other beasts that make our way into San Francisco.

Well, there are feral cats, tons of them. No matter where you go you well see stray cats running around, but we also have some nice pristine areas that urban dwellers haven’t taken over that have become home to some even more wildlife. In the East Bay a few years ago there was a jogger who was attacked by a mountain lion. San Francisco, luckily free of mountain lions does have its share of coyotes now. You usually see them in the Richmond district making their way through the park to Sunset Boulevard in the Sunset district. The biologists in the know say they are coming from Marin and are actually crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at night to venture into better feeding grounds in the Presidio.

I read a story yesterday though that shows that apparently our coyote population isn’t just made up of immigrants from Marin. There are several coyotes living in Glen Park Canyon and people who have been watching them have noticed that one of the cubs, term used loosely because he/she is a couple of years old, has moved on to greener pastures. I used to live near the canyon and if I was a wild animal living in an urban area I’m not sure where I would go. They could go up the hill from Glen Park, but that would be navigating along asphalt walkways until you get to the top and hit the mini-mall like shopping area and juvenile hall. Not sure how long a coyote would last in juvenile hall, but I wouldn’t want to test the theory.

If the coyote went east you’d be smack in the middle of the Mission District 94112, again, not a nice place to be a wild animal with the 14 Mission buses to avoid along with all the people cruising down Mission street. The Norteño/Sureño gang’s aren’t as big there anymore so you wouldn’t have to worry about being shot, but Jeez, it’s kind of tough to be a wild animal in an urban setting when the people are more wild than you are.

I will give you a word of advice though. If you do run into a coyote in San Francisco keep in mind that they aren’t dogs. They’re a little more confusing than the foxes that you rarely see anymore except by the beach, but coyotes can be easily mistaken for dogs so don’t walk up and put your hand out for it to sniff or you might be making a quick trip to the hospital to have your hand put back together. While they don’t bite with as much force as a wolf or a pit bull their faces are built to tear flesh and as someone who once went through the wind shield of Caddy from the outside in, having your flesh torn from your body is not a fun thing to have happen.

I had one walk by my car when I was driving through the Presidio and I stopped thinking it might be a lost dog. Luckily I realized when it was a couple feet from my window that it wasn’t a dog. We stopped and looked at it safely from inside the car until it got bored with us and started to walk away. Coyotes are seen by the Native Americans as tricksters and I wanted him to leave first. If I decided to drive he might have done something stupid like jump in front of my car since they’re fast and having to explain to my friends in SF that I hit a coyote with my car in San Francisco is just something that might be a little difficult for some people to understand.

Coyotes, they’re here and they’re not going away. Just keep that in mind.

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4 Replies to “Urban Wildlife: It’s More Than Rats and Roaches”

  1. We have coyotes in NYC as well. There is a family in the Bronx and at least one in Queens. Last winter, we had several enter Mahattan. One stayed for weeks in a tiny nature sanctuary in Central Park, from which it would leave at dark to hunt. I saw it several times. It was finally caught down in Tribeca, one of the most urbanized areas of the city. Coyotes are pretty much everywhere now. They have adapted well to humans. It’s time humans figure out how o adapt to them.

  2. San Francisco has alot of wildelife.
    We got SeaLions, Coyotes, Red Foxes, Squirrls,Racoons, Opossums, Rats,Groundhoggs,Seagulls,Parrots,Pigeons, ravens , the little blackbirds, hummingbirds, canadian geese, falcons, deer, bobcats and many more that i did not mention plus all the things that live in San Francisco Bay. Its truly an Urban Jungle, a Redwood Urban Forest is actually the more accurate term for this great city of FRISCO California 415 in the house!

  3. I agree, there is lots of wildlife in San Francisco. We see lots of it, but it’s what we don’t see or look for that I wanted to bring people’s attention to.

    Many people don’t realize that there have been a number of coyote attacks on dogs all over the forested parts of the city, or the raccoons that go through their garbage at night. The Parrots are mostly down in Burlingame now. Ravens and Blackbirds are everywhere now. When I start seeing monkeys I’ll start to get scared.

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