Animal Control officials in San Francisco shot and killed two coyotes for attacks on dogs while they were walking with their owners in Golden Gate Park. Officials say that the coyotes may have been fending for their young or may have been sick. A debate over the killings also sparked a debate.
The Associated Press report did not mention whether these coyotes may have attacked cats in the area. City officials say two more may be still residing in the park. But as many as 8 coyotes may be roaming the San Francisco area. Interactions between city life and coyotes are rare, but not unheard of. Earlier this year, a Chicago coyote decided to take a nap in a sub shop’s fridge.
According to Deb Campbell, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Animal Care and Control Department:
“Fish and Game saw them, observed them and in their expert opinion decided they were a public safety risk and had to be destroyed, it was only a matter of time before they hurt someone.”
The wild canines were spotted and shot late Sunday near Speedway Meadow, a popular pedestrian area where the dogs were attacked on Saturday morning. They bit one of the pets, a large Rhodesian ridgeback, and lunged the other dog along a path. The ridgeback suffered minor injuries.
The killing of the coyotes sparks a debate between people who felt they posed no danger and the authorities. Some argued that they should have been relocated instead of shot.
City animal control and park authorities said the order to shoot wasn’t their call, and declined to say if they agreed with it. They said they understood the rationale even while sympathizing with the coyote defenders.
Officials said that relocation would have caused a different set of problems:
Officials said they have a hard time finding suitable habitat for coyotes not already taken by one of its own kind. An area without resident coyotes probably doesn’t have enough food to support them, meaning any relocated animal would be doomed to starvation, said Larry Hawkins, regional spokesman the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Service.
(Source: AP and the SF Chronicle)