Sec. 486 M.P.C.

I saw a sign today that made me want to run home to the internet and do a search. It was in regards to Sec. 486 M.P.C. A law which forbids the feeding of wildlife in San Francisco. This sign listed some of the wildlife and I realized that I have been in violation of this law many time, but luckily I haven’t in the past 10 years so I think I’m past the statue of limitations.

I used to love many years ago to go to the arboretum and sit on a bench and wait until the squirrels would run up my legs for me to hand them a peanut [hint, they prefer walnuts]. I love my time as a teenager when the raccoons would walk up to me in my back yard and take an egg from my hand. I was not one to ever feed pigeons, though there were a couple of times when a friendly one would walk up and i’d toss a bit of something to them. Seagulls are definitely off my list as they are food thieves and don’t need to be fed ever. I have tossed some old bread to the ducks at Stowe Lake though.

At the zoo, when I was a kid they used to sell mackerel bits to toss to the seals, but I suppose that didn’t fall under Sec. 486 M.P.C. then or there was some kind of special dispensation. I know that feeding squirrels isn’t really that good for them, but in a way it disappoints me as I will not have the chance to take my daughter to Japanese Tea Garden or Arboretum and show her how much fun it is when a squirrel takes a nut from your hand. I’m not sure I’d want to help her feed a raccoon as they can turn on you sometimes and there is always that rabies thing you have to think of.

I guess the goats and sheep at the zoo are considered domestic animals since they sell alfalfa pellets for them that you can purchase for 50¢ and feed to them. My daughter enjoys this a lot so I guess that’ll have to do. I definitely will add skunks to the menu of animals not to fee, though I admit I have done that before in San Francisco as well as the odd possum I’ve seen. While I’ve encounter a couple of coyote’s in San Francisco, I’ve never fed one preferring to stay safely in my car. I have fed old bread to the Buffalos in the park way back when they could  walk up to the fence, but those days have passed. I even remember back to the days as a kid when they sold zoo chow at the zoo and I would be throwing the pellets at the bears who would lean back and hold up their hind legs to get you to perform for them so they could get the treats.

I guess the times are a changing when the department of public works posts a phone number you can call to report offenders. I wonder now what the fine is for feeding a nut to a squirrel?

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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