SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — City officials issued another plea to San Francisco residents to stop from feeding wild coyotes who have been wandering the streets and parks, searching for food.
As part of their efforts, Animal Control released a photo taken by a park-goer, of a woman sitting calmly on the ground with a pile of raw meat as a coyote waits about 15 feet away. A man on the trail said he talked to her about not feeding them but she told him they were her “babies.”
“She’s probably trying to be helpful, but it’s not helpful and it’s really dangerous for the coyote,” Virginia Donohue, Executive Director of SF Animal Care and Control, told KPIX 5.
Donohue said when people feed coyotes they lose their fear of man, bringing them into populated areas. And Animal Control has plenty of pictures sent to them by residents of coyotes roaming the city.
Vanessa Barragan lives right next to Bernal Heights Park and says that woman with the meat is not alone.
“No, I’ve seen a lot of people feeding the coyotes,” she said. “There’s a lot of people that sympathize with them, so they feed them all sorts of treats.”
At Bernal Heights Park, there are signs everywhere warning about the presence of coyotes. But Megan Huelfer doesn’t need the signs. She’s got pictures and video of the coyotes she sees on her walks.
“Oh yeah, probably once or twice a week I come up here and I’ve seen them once or twice,” Huelfer said.
Animal Care & Control officials said they have received numerous reports of feeding in multiple areas of San Francisco. Officials warned that feeding coyotes – and other wildlife – creates dangerous situations when animals learn to approach people as they seek an easy handout.
“Animals can become assertive and aggressive when seeking food, increasing the potential of becoming a public safety risk,” officials said in a news release. “People should never encourage a wild animal to come near them.”
Recently, a coyote was lethally removed from Golden Gate Park in July after it aggressively approached some children.
Among the food left out for the coyote included platters of meat, according to officials. Two dozen bagels were also purposely left out. The food was left out despite signs all over the park urging visitors not to feed the animals.
“I appreciate that they think they’re helping – they’re not helping,” Donohue told KPIX 5 at the time. “There’s no food shortage for coyotes in San Francisco. There’s food all over the joint. There’s gophers, there’s moles.”
Donohue renewed her calls for people to stop feeding wildlife on Wednesday.
“Our team does not want to have to participate in removing a coyote again. This was people’s fault, not the coyote’s fault,” she said. “So, it is really important that everybody in the city take responsibility for themselves and stop feeding the wildlife.”
If anyone can identify the woman in the photo released, please call Animal Care & Control at 415-554-9400. Feeding wild animals is illegal and anyone caught could face fines of up to $1000 and/or jail time.
John Ramos contributed to this report.