You know what wild animals with bandit masks aren't afraid of humans and live amongst us in urban packs waiting to eat our garbage? Raccoons. And recently a father and son on a stroll through Golden Gate Park came upon a gang of 14 raccoons, many of them juveniles, along a paved walking path near the ocean.
Marc Estoque and his son Ever were walking their dog Zeus last Thursday on a trail beside North Lake, near 43rd Avenue and Fulton Street when they came upon the troupe. And while they looked cuddly, Estoque warned his son not to get too close because raccoons can be very mean.
Also, he needed to restrain Zeus from getting too curious.
Then, just as they passed by the pack of raccoons, Ever spotted a coyote just off the trail down by the water — which you can see on the video below. Estoque comments, "It's like the end of days!"
NBC Bay Area spoke to SF City College professor and urban wildlife expert Matthew Schweitzer, who explained that raccoons will sometimes gather in packs like this to beg for food, and they can get aggressive about it. These raccoons have likely become too accustomed to being close to humans, and they've likely been fed by passersby, he says.
Three years ago there was an apparent upswell in the raccoon population in the city, and a wildlife expert at the time explained that it's in the summer and early fall that momma raccoons begin taking their broods out into the world to teach them how to forage for food.
Rec and Parks spokesperson Tamara Aparton tells SFGate that they've been posting signage telling people not to feed any of the wildlife, because it can lead to them being aggressive with people and potentially needing to be put down.
Coyote sightings in Golden Gate Park have been a bit more common during the pandemic as they have been in other parts of the city, with fewer cars on the road and less people around in general.
It's unclear if the coyote in the video was stalking the raccoons or running away from them — Estoque tells NBC Bay Area that "It seemed like the coyote was avoiding the raccoon family. Like the raccoons were running the roost."
Anyway, don't feed the raccoons! And keep your dogs away from them! They clearly are trying to take over and we must be vigilant.