Background - Coyotes in the Presidio
After a long absence, coyotes returned to the Presidio in 2002 and are now seen regularly in the park. They're also seen in Marin, Golden Gate Park, Lands End, Glen Park, and other open spaces throughout the greater Bay Area.
In 2003-2004, the Presidio Trust began working with other Bay Area agencies to develop a Wildlife Incident Protocol, which helps us assess wildlife behavior and determine appropriate responses. Based on this protocol, our management actions range from public education to hazing to, under very rare circumstances, lethal removal of a coyote evaluated and determined to be a threat to public safety. The amount of open space acreage of the Presidio is only large enough to support one pair of breeding coyotes and the population varies seasonally depending on how many pups are born in a given year.
Coyote pupping season usually runs from spring through the fall. Typically, as part of the coyote's complex social structure, pups are driven from the parents' territory within their first year, and the resident adult population in the Presidio remains stable. However, given constant migration, variable pup survival and dispersal rates, and the difficulties of identifying specific individual coyotes, it’s unknown precisely how many coyotes are in the Presidio at any given time. When the seasonal den is located, we place coyote den warning signs in the area to alert dog walkers to be more aware of their surroundings or avoid the area, as we’ve done this year.
If You Encounter a Coyote in the Presidio
- Keep your distance; do not approach the coyote.
- Keep your dog on a leash and under your control.
- Never attempt to feed a coyote.
- Exit the area immediately.
- If a coyote is within 50 feet and does not move away, haze the animal to help it retain a fear of humans:
- Be as big and loud as possible; shout in a deep, loud, and aggressive voice.
- Wave your arms and throw small objects (to scare, not injure) toward the coyote.
- Maintain eye contact, which makes the coyote uncomfortable and timid.
- If the coyote continues to approach, do not run or turn your back, but continue to exaggerate the gestures while backing away slowly and leaving the area.
If you encounter a coyote during pupping season (spring through fall) AND you have a dog with you, the best course of action is to back away slowly and to leave the area immediately. Coyotes will attempt to drive away other coyotes and dogs from their pups, and hazing may not work.
Coyote Monitoring Activities
In spring 2016, we stepped up our monitoring and data collection of the coyote population by implementing a pilot project to help us determine the number, movement patterns, health, and individual identities of coyotes in the Presidio. Modeling this project on successful urban coyote programs in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Denver, our goal was to learn more about the resident coyote population and devise strategies that may help reduce coyote and dog/human conflict. We placed temporary tracking collars and unique colored ear tags on seven coyotes. As a result of our monitoring, we know that three of these coyotes recently left the Presidio. All headed south, one going as far as Los Gatos. So far, at least two have been killed by vehicles. A fourth coyote died of unknown causes in the Presidio.
As of May 2017, we believe there's a total of seven coyotes living in the Presidio, consisting of two adults (the alpha pair), three adolescents from 2016 that have yet to disperse (see the above image) and two recently born pups. The alpha female (001F) is tagged and the alpha male is untagged and can be identified by a subtle tear in the right ear. Two of the three juveniles are collared and tagged (004M and 006F); one juvenile was not collared and tagged.
Based on preliminary results from our research, it’s clear that after more than a decade of known presence in the Presidio, there’s only one breeding pair established here as long-term residents. All individuals born over the last decade have dispersed and/or succumbed to vehicle mortality, and we anticipate the same for most or all of the current juveniles. Our monitoring will allow us to continue to track when and where these animals disperse.
It’s possible transient coyotes (i.e. those not born in the Presidio) may move through the park at times. However, typical coyote social behavior is likely to result in the current alpha pair maintaining their territory and driving out intruders.
Help Us Monitor Coyotes in the Park
If you see a coyote in the park, submit a photo and/or report the sighting via iNaturalist through their app or website. If possible, try to identify the presence of ear tags. Note at least one of the colors (see images above). We regularly monitor iNaturalist for information on coyote activity, location, and other relevant information (e.g. what was the coyote doing when you observed it? Was it sleeping in the sun, hunting gophers in a field, etc.?).
We’ll periodically post updates on this web page with information about where coyotes have recently been seen most frequently.
Learn More and Contact Us
Read Frequently Asked Questions for simple steps you can take to minimize coyote and human conflict within the park.
Report any incidents of concern (such as aggressive coyote behavior or visitors feeding a coyote) immediately at (415) 561-4148 or
Sightings from the public help us understand the behaviors and movements of coyotes so we can improve our management strategies. Share your coyote sightings with us and the community via the iNaturalist website or app.