Marin Scope

Friendly coyote not seen for weeks

November 13, 2008
Jessica Mullins, Staff Writer/Editor

The habituated coyote “Big Ears” has been missing from the Marin Headlands since September, when a drawn-out dilemma ended with the GGNRA agreeing to send the coyote to a sanctuary in Texas. But shortly after the agreement the coyote was nowhere to be found.

Big Ears had become too friendly with humans – contact wildlife officials strongly oppose. People feeding Big Ears led her astray from her habits, including hunting, running from cars and avoiding people. The coyote had become a danger to herself and park visitors and was facing possible “lethal removal” (i.e., death) until the GGNRA agreed with Mary Paglieri, a behaviorist and human-animal conflict consultant, to a plan of trapping the coyote and sending her to Texas.

Paglieri, who has monitored Big Ears for more than five months and has attempted to dehabituate her, hasn’t seen the coyote since Sept. 24.

Chris Powell, GGNRA spokesperson, said Big Ears’ disappearance doesn’t mean the coyote is gone. “It could mean that our hazing technique moved the coyote to the more rural area of the park. We have the best hope that our actions have proved successful. At this point we don’t know what happened to the coyote.”

Paglieri said she has searched for the coyote nearly every day since she went missing. “Habituated animals do not change their behavior so drastically. That’s what’s so worrisome. They’re habit-oriented and I would have seen her within a month. I haven’t seen or heard of her. I’ve made a commitment to continue looking for her. I haven’t given up on her and I won’t until I’ve proven she’s gone forever – that she’s dead or she’s moved to another area, which is really highly unlikely.”