Coyote pups frolic in Golden Gate Park

While you’re searching Golden Gate Park for the latest fairy door, keep your eyes peeled for the park’s adorable resident coyotes as well.

The latest photo set captured by nature photographer David Cruz documents the summer activities of at least three of coyote yearlings who call the western end of Golden Gate Park home.

Cruz, a former Richmond District resident, has followed this pack of about a dozen coyotes for the past couple years, and estimates the pups are a few years old at the most.

Cruz tells SFBay older coyotes take turn chaperoning the young pups, who like to frolic around the park, play with beer cans, boots and soda bottles — and even howl along with The City’s Tuesday noon siren:

“[When] the city alert siren goes off in San Francisco, this is an excellent time to hear a coyote sing! Often I would hear three different howls when sirens go off, easily giving away the coyotes’ once hidden location.”

But before you go all Steve Irwin Coyote Hunter, be sure to heed the Rec and Parks wildlife guidelines to protect your safety and the safety of our animal friends.

With regard to coyotes, park officials recommend to never feed the animals and dispose of your trash. Read the rest of the guidelines here.

For those interested in observing the park’s coyote friends, Cruz has some tips for spotting “a tail and happy ears:”

  • The best time to view coyotes are in the early morning and after sunset when they are most active.
  • For the past two years, coyotes have hung out in the western side of the park, particularly near North Lake.
  • Coyotes will not attack you, said Cruz. They’re usually not interested in humans.
  • According to Cruz, he’s seen coyotes chase dogs with larger dogs having the upper hand 90 percent of the time. If you have worries, Cruz advises leaving your dog at home during pupping season (April-August). But if you do bring Fido along, always keep your dog on a leash.
  • Watch for great horned owls who like to shadow coyotes on the prowl.
  • Coyotes don’t like traffic, so venture out into the quieter parts of the park for better viewing chances.
  • Keep an eye out for coyotes roaming Ocean Beach in the early morn, where they can be seen cleaning up from the day before.
  • Be patient. Cruz said you should consider yourself lucky for even spotting one because: “[…] chances are you’re going to blink, and it will disappear.