Coyote Sighting in Golden Gate Park

Took a foggy dusk walk in the western end of Golden Gate Park. At 5:00 P.M., as I rounded the south end of the walking path looping North Lake, I spotted at first what I thought were two unleashed grey dogs. I waited a few moments to see if an owner appeared, but no. I continued towards them slowly–about 30 yards from me–and one jumped off the path and down into the vegetation at the lake. I got a closer view then and realized they were coyotes.

Of course, I was without a camera. As I saw a man approaching with a small dog on the other side of the lake, I spoke out to him, “Coyotes!” The coyote down by the lake hustled back up the embankment to the walking path and both coyotes paced around a bit, alternately sniffing around and checking where I was. After a few moments, they both trotted off into the woods, ivy, and brush towards the golf course.

First time I’d seen coyotes in the park in about eight months, the last time was spotting one in the bison den at 1:00 P.M., hunting for rabbit or gopher or whatnot. Park gardeners have told me that den of coyotes lives in the bison pen.

Many people in the city have no idea about the wildlife existing in this city north of SOMA.

8 Comments so far

  1. TinMan (unregistered) on December 14th, 2006 @ 8:31 pm

    There are probably rattlesnakes in Golden Gate Park, but no one likes to hear that.

    Oh yeah, there are white sharks at Ocean Beach, too.

    For what it’s worth, when there are coyotes around, it doesn’t really affect where we stand on the food chain.

    Mountain lions and white sharks? Yeah, maybe there’s a new apex predator in town.


  2. Richard (unregistered) on December 14th, 2006 @ 9:34 pm

    Not sure why you say that Tinman… I’d be pretty excited to hear about rattlers in GGP. I truly doubt they are there, but do tell.


  3. tyler82 (unregistered) on December 15th, 2006 @ 1:55 am

    I’ve encountered opossums in my friend’s yard near Twin Peaks (naaasty little animals), skunks while riding my bike down the Arguello gate in Presidio, oh, and Sasquatch on Polk Street @ Washington.


  4. TinMan (unregistered) on December 15th, 2006 @ 7:22 am

    Okay, okay, I should have written, “few people would like to hear that” not “no one likes to hear that”. Most people hate snakes.

    My logic: I figure any place over 1-2 acres in the West that has gophers probably has rattlers around.

    I think I’ve seen Sasquatch a couple of times but it may have just been some homeless guy.


  5. Matt R. (unregistered) on December 15th, 2006 @ 7:47 am

    Tinman raises an interesteing prospect of rattlers in GGP. I’ve never considered it, despite rattlers present in the hills within 5-10 miles of here. When I walk the trails of the park, I don’t even think of encountering rattlers. I doubt there are any, due to the partiuclar microclimate in this neck of the woods. Next time I see a park gardener, I’ll ask him/her.

    As a child I grew up around rattlers–very common in the LA coastal and westside hills. We’d see them in the mornings in the street, out cold or dead run-over. Safe to pick the sleeping ones up then. We kept a couple of rattlers in an aquarium on the driveway for some time. Coyote and fox were a common sight then, too.

    There are foxes in GGP, I’ve been told, but I haven’t spottend one, yet. I see skunks on occasion. At least there aren’t mountain lions in the park–I’ve been spooked off hiking trails in Carmel Valley and Big Sur, same sort of feeling when surfing: every once in a while, you get an extra sense of “sharkiness” that you try to rationalize, but then realize you too are an animal and perhaps this is one of those times to trust your heightened senses that we as humans often ignore or don’t even think we have–and it’s time to paddle in.


  6. Bryce (unregistered) on December 15th, 2006 @ 10:26 am

    A couple of Golden Gate foxes: http://flickr.com/photos/bryce/267573926/

    At least, that’s what I was told. ;-)


  7. Mr. B. (unregistered) on December 18th, 2006 @ 10:47 am

    Foxes are on the Lincoln side, near the windmill/construction site.


  8. Gasstation (unregistered) on December 26th, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

    There are Coyotes in the Presidio and McLaren park as well, they are likely moving regularly through many neighborhoods unseen. Certainly Skunks, Raccons and Opossums are widely distributed throughout the city. I have had the Red Foxes in GGP at the Buffalo Paddock, the fly-casting pools and Middle Lake, I have had Coyotes at Middle Lake as well.
    I would be very suprised to hear that there are Rattlers in GGP, or anywhere in the city. I know many naturalists, and spend a great deal of time in local parks birding. Snakes are very hard to find in SF, I have seen Gopher Snake only once and Garter Snake only a handful of times. Any suitable habitat for Rattlers is likely to have dog walkers, and I’d suspect that the dog walkers would have any rattlers killed straight away. I’d bet San Bruno Mountain is as close to SF as Rattlers get these days.
    As for other wildlife, There are Jack-rabbits (Black tails I believe) at Candlestick Point Park, as well as Beechy Ground Squirrels.



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