Coyotes
in San Mateo County Park Lands

drawing by Mary A. Paglieri

San Mateo County Parks and Recreation


You are entering a wildlife area where many animals including coyotes may live. This brochure is provided to help you avoid conflicts, and inform you on how to respond if you do encounter an aggressive coyote.
The coyote is a member of the dog family and resembles a small German Shepard. It is greyish-brown in color and has a bushy tail with a black tip. An average coyote weighs 20-35 pounds and stands 20-23 inches high at the shoulders.

photo by Melissa Caufield


Coyotes play an important role in maintaining the health and balance of the ecosystem. It is not uncommon to see coyotes in their natural habitat; however, they are usually extremely wary of humans and will avoid people whenever possible.

Bold and aggressive displays towards people are not considered normal coyote behavior.
Several factors can contribute to bold behavior patterns. It is important to understand that our behavior influences their behavior, thereby we can minimize potential conflicts by being mindful of our own actions.


Here's what you should and should not do:


NEVER FEED WILDLIFE

Coyotes quickly lose their natural fear of humans when they begin to associate us with food and can become bold, even aggressive.
The coyote's diet normally consists of insects, birds, mice, other small prey, and plant material. However, they are highly adaptable and will eat any available food, including handouts from people. Coyotes will seek the easiest food source available.
Even bird seed left along the trail edges by otherwise well intending individuals can indirectly create problems by concentrating prey close to the trail. The birds and rodents drawn to these open areas by the seed will attract coyotes and other predators. This close proximity of people and coyotes can create a serious potential for conflicts.
In recognition of this problem caused by feeding wildlife, the county enforces an ordinance which prohibits approaching or the feeding of wild animals (section 3.2.40).

OBSERVE PARK HOURS

Large predators in the park lands are most active dusk through dawn. Although coyotes are most active during these hours they can be visible throughout the day.
Please respect the needs of wildlife in their own home and minimize your chance of an encounter by strictly observing posted park hours.

KEEP WILDLIFE WILD

Remember, coyotes are wild, unpredictable animals and should be treated as such, even if they appear to be tame or unafraid of people. Attempts to "make friends" with coyotes only contribute to their boldness.
When coyotes become complacent about contacts with humans, conflicts may begin to occur. Wild animals that become too bold or aggressive toward humans may be destroyed. It is critical to their survival that they maintain a natural fear of human beings.

PRECAUTIONS FOR CHILDREN

As in any wild land area, children should be with an adult and under direct supervision of an adult at all times. On rare occasions, coyotes have been known to become aggressive toward small children causing them serious injury.

AVOID UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTERS WITH COYOTES

Always stay on the trails and pay attention to your surroundings. Make noise, such as talking, to help alert the coyotes and other wildlife to your presence, so they can avoid you.

IF YOU DO ENCOUNTER A COYOTE
>
Do not advance towards the animal.
>Calmly leave the area.
>Avoid direct eye contact.

IF APPROACHED BY A COYOTE
>
Do not turn your back, do not run.
>Make loud noises and make yourself look big to scare the animal away.
>Always keep yourself between the animal and small children.
>If attacked, fight back.

Report all sightings to a Ranger or call the Park's Administration office at: (650) 363-4020

Please provide us with the exact location, time of day, and a detailed description and behavior of the animal.


for EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE or MEDICAL HELP call : 9 1 1


HELP PROTECT PARK RESOURCES

San Mateo County Parks and Recreation has the difficult task of balancing recreational use of the county parks with preservation and protection of wildlife and other park resources.

You can help achieve this balance by:
*
Not feeding or leaving food for any animals, including birds.
*Never encouraging any animal to approach you.
*Never approaching any wild animal.
*Strictly observing posted park hours.
*Responding appropriately to wildlife encounters.


Brochure prepared by San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Division and the San Mateo County Fish and Wildlife Advisory Committee: 455 County Center, 4th floor, Redwood City, CA 94063. Phone (650) 363-4020 Fax: (650) 599-1721

E-mail: ParksandRecreation@co.SanMateo.ca.us