Two new residents have moved into Lone Mountain with free room and board: coyotes. It is speculated, based on community observations, that their den is on the west side of Lone Mountain. This semester, Public Safety Dispatch has been experiencing an increased number of students reporting sightings of coyotes. But according to Daniel Lawson, director of Public Safety, there have been coyote appearances on campus for about three to four years now.
The sightings are more common now that there are two coyotes residing on Lone Mountain. “We have seen consistent sightings, and it seems to be the same pair,” Lawson said. The new pair has been spotted during the late afternoon napping under trees and have also been reported to be howling in the evening.
According to Lawson, it is mostly likely that this coyote pair is mating. There have been reports made to Public Safety that the pair was seen attempting to mate. Coyote pup-bearing season occurs during the months of April to October, and once coyotes have pups, they are more likely to remain permanent inhabitants. According to San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC), coyotes are increasingly becoming an urban species and have become more acclimated to urban life. It is most likely that this pair of coyotes came from across Marin County, walking their way across the Golden Gate Bridge. “Once they get into Golden Gate Park, they have a straight shot across the city,” said Lawson. Under California state law, it is illegal to relocate wild animals due to its ineffectiveness and the unlikelihood of the animals surviving.
Coyotes are shy animals whose only prey are small creatures like rodents. They only exhibit aggressive behavior when protecting their pups. Otherwise, they usually walk away and take off when seeing people. Yet for most students who have witnessed the increased presence of the coyotes, their immediate reaction is shock. Chiweta Uzoka, senior politics major, saw the coyotes walking by the Spanish Steps on Lone Mountain. “I didn’t move, I stopped and watched where it was going and when it went in the grass I ran down the steps,” said Uzoka.
Public Safety has reached out to SFACC to notify them of USF’s new inhabitants. The SFACC only tracks wild animals through reports from the public, since they do not have the staffing to roam around observing wildlife. In the meantime, Public Safety plans to post signage around Lone Mountain to remind students to be mindful of our new neighbors. Lawson advises that, just like with any wild animal, you should treat the coyotes with caution and be mindful that there could possibly be coyote pups around. “Like any animal, you want to give that animal space. Live and let live,” said Lawson.
Lawson notes that the coyotes are not alone in wildlife that lives on campus. There are raccoons that make their appearance in the trash cans across both the Hilltop and Lone Mountain campuses. There are also red-tailed hawks that are speculated to have made a home in Lone Mountain’s trees. “We believe they are here to stay and we have to learn to respect them,” said Lawson.
Featured Photo: One of the two coyotes that have have been believed to be mating on Lone Mountain. COURTESY OF TYLER STUART-ELLIS