two coyotes nose to nose
Coyotes in Tilden Park in December 2019. Photo: Chris Polydoroff

I’m always excited when I see a coyote while hiking in Tilden Regional Park. They are beautiful animals who look like wolves or wild dogs (to which they are closely related) and add to the wildness of the park. Normally they appear in the distance and do everything they can to minimize contact with humans. So when I came across this pack of five or six coyotes near the road where I was walking a friend’s dog, I was thrilled. I came back the next day with my camera and 400mm lens and began photographing them just before sunset when they appear to be most active. I returned four more times and each time they returned to the same spot at roughly the same time.

(Click on the photo to start the slide show).

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I do worry about this pack of animals, though, as they seem a little too comfortable with the presence of humans, of which there are many walking and biking by, some with their dogs. I’ve witnessed a large German Shepherd chase three of them into the woods and emerge a minute later being playfully chased by the coyotes. The dog turned around and chased them in turn and this played out for several minutes. There was no sign of aggression by either side, although I was worried, as well as irritated, that the dog owner said she didn’t have a leash to restrain her dog.

It’s clear that we will continue to share our parkland and neighborhoods with coyotes. Many animals have been sighted in Berkeley neighborhoods and in people’s backyards. NextDoor is filled with photos and discussions about coyotes. They are controversial to be sure, but they are here to stay and, for me, it’s important to realize that they were here first. We are intruders and guests on their land.

Chris Polydoroff is a photographer and video producer who recently moved to California by way of Washington D.C., Minnesota and North Carolina. He worked as a staff photographer for 27 years at the Saint...