Close Encounters Of The Furred Kind Highlight Need For Safety

Photo: Jennifer C./Flickr
By Camden Avery - Published on October 19, 2017.

After residents reported uncomfortably close encounters with area wildlife recently around the fringes of Golden Gate Park, Mt. Sutro, Twin Peaks and Mt. Davidson, we're checking back in with some pointers for urban animal safety.

Here's a summary of some recent encounters, and the city's advice for avoiding animal conflicts.


West Portal resident Mariam came across a raccoon at Ulloa and Granville last Wednesday evening around 7:30. Her dog found what she first thought was a cat, but turned out to be a raccoon, which started hissing and chasing her pet.

"The raccoon was after my dog mainly," she said. "I fell once and got up. Next time I fell, I saw a second raccoon charging from across the street," she told Hoodline.

Two neighbors emerged from their homes to chased the raccoons away with a shovel, but not before Mariam sustained two breaks to her wrist from a fall during the encounter. "I now carry a bell, a walking stick with a sharp end, and pepper spray" when walking her dog, she said.

Because dogs often chase raccoons, the city recommends using extra caution when letting dogs out or taking them for a walk.

Raccoons often overnight in backyards, can run as fast as 15 miles per hour, and often move in groups. If you do encounter a raccoon, clap your hands or make  loud noises.

Raccoons can jump, climb trees, and run 15 miles an hour. | photo: seabarium/flickr


Less aggressive than raccoons unless bothered, skunks continue to be a problem reported in and around Cole Valley. A family that frequents the area near Willard and Frederick streets has recently been spotted after dark.

If you see a skunk, keep your distance and move away slowly or cross the street. They can move quickly but are generally non-confrontational unless pressed or panicked.

A coyote in the middle of the day in Corona Heights. | Photo: Patrick M./Hoodline Tipline


More visible and frequently discussed, coyotes have established a foothold across the city. 

Tipster Lisa A. reported walking her dog around 2am in at Beulah Cole and Belvedere streets last week, where she encountered a coyote that followed her across the the street and down the block. She eventually succeeded in discouraging it and urging it back towards Golden Gate Park.

Here's a summary of the city's tips for preventing encounters that could go wrong:

  • Don't feed wildlife, keep garbage cans securely locked, and keep fruit from ornamental trees off the ground.
  • Clear undergrowth and brush to prevent rodents from nesting; they're a food source for coyotes.
  • Keep your eyes open and be alert while walking your dog. When letting pets into the yard, clap your hands—lights don't dissuade raccoons from congregating, and they often spend the night in backyards.
  • Don't let pets roam freely at night.
  • Don't corner wild animals.
  • Keep small entrances to building interiors and crawl spaces sealed with chicken wire or other impassable barriers. Don't seal up crawl spaces unless you know they're vacant.

The city has more resources here and here. For assistance, call animal control at 415-554-9400.

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