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Coyotes in park dog attack had been fed by humans

7/30/2007

SAN FRANCISCO — Two coyotes that recently attacked a pair of dogs
in Golden Gate Park might have become aggressive because someone had
been feeding them every day, officials said, leading the city's
animal-control agency to initiate an effort to teach residents how to
coexist with wildlife peacefully.

The coyotes, a male and female, were shot to death by U.S.
Department of Agriculture officials the day after the July 14
incident. Both have tested negative for rabies, Animal Care and
Control officials said Wednesday.

Carl Friedman, head of Animal Care and Control, said that since the
attack — which left one dog with minor injuries — he has learned
that at least one person had been feeding the coyotes raw meat out of
a van every day.

"People would watch, and they saw them get more assertive, more
demanding,'' he said.

The education campaign will be twofold, Friedman said: Officials
will ask the public to report coyote sightings in an effort to better
pinpoint where the animals are, and they will canvass relevant
neighborhoods in an effort to educate those most likely to see the
canines.

Shortly before the attack, the agency had issued a statement asking
residents to stop calling with coyote sightings and assuring the
public that the animals would not be aggressive unless they were fed.

Officials changed tack after receiving numerous reports that the
Golden Gate Park pair were being fed regularly, Friedman said.

"We were under the impression that (the coyotes) would do what
wild animals usually do, which is be shy, and we could all coexist
until the end of time,'' Friedman said. "Obviously that didn't
happen, because people were more involved than they need to be.

"What's very evident from last week's tragedy is that we need to
be more proactive than reactive,'' he said. "We're trying to go
gangbusters to get the public to understand how to coexist with
wildlife.''

Animal-control officials, working with experts from the Marin
Humane Society and the Animal Protection Institute, began passing out
information this week.

"Interacting, feeding them is going to be a death sentence,''
Friedman said. "It's great to share this wonderful city with the
abundance of wildlife we have, but in order to do that, we need to let
the wildlife stay wild.''