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This wily coyote is causing concern among golfers at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. He seems to be unafraid of humans and as gone as far as stealing golf balls from the fairways. Photo courtesy of Jerry Yahr
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Coyote pesters golfers in Rancho Santa Fe

RANCHO SANTA FE — A wily coyote has been causing concern for golfers at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Course in recent weeks. 

Not only is the animal cocky, he seems to have little fear of humans and has even gone so far as stealing golf balls from the fairway.

“We saw the coyote at the golf club while we were sitting outside having lunch,” said Elizabeth Monge, a longtime Rancho Santa Fe resident. “This coyote walked up to the 18th fairway, walked around the fairway and all around the green. He went to the ninth hole and just stood there.”

She said that many people have seen the coyote and are sure it is the same one.

“This thing is big. It was like a German Shepherd walking around,” he said. “People came up to play and it stood there and did not move. It’s unusual to see a coyote that brave.”

Janet Christ said she has seen it several times on the golf course.

“It feels to me that it lives between the second and eighth hole. It roams pretty often between the first, ninth, second and eighth hole,” she said.

On New Year’s Day at about 2 p.m., she said there were two groups of four playing the first hole, one group on the tee box and the other waiting to tee off.

“There were eight people out there. He casually strolled down the first fairway like ‘Hi. What are you going to do about me?’ He had a lot of moxy,” she said.

She said even though the groups were shouting at it trying to scare it away, the coyote stood its ground.

“It didn’t blink an eye. He was standing no more than eight yards from us,” she said.

“It comes out during tournaments. It is very healthy and swarthy. He prances around like a German Shepherd.”

She said one time the women were playing in a tournament when the coyote came out on the fairway and took a woman’s ball and walked away. She saw that with her own eyes, she said.

Christ said she and others fear something bad is going to happen maybe to children who are walking home from school on the trails alone.

And there are rumors that a coyote took a small dog right off its leash.

“I don’t walk around the golf course anymore with my dog,” she said.

Jerry Yahr got off a couple of photos of the coyote recently.

“It seemed healthy. Not sickly in any way,” Yahr said.

He said he is not frightened by the coyote and he has lived in Rancho Santa Fe since 1993 and uses the trails regularly and he has seen many of them by accident on the trails.

“I’d rather see a coyote than the mountain lion they talk about,” he said.

Andrew Hughan, public information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said what is happening at the golf course is not uncommon.

“For coyotes, it’s all about food,” he said. “Often small dogs and cats are easy targets.”

He said officials have been unable to verify that small dogs are taken right off their leashes, but he said people who walk their dogs off leash have lost them to the predators. Hughan said coyotes have been known to get over six-foot fences to get to small dogs.

“We as a department, most of us are pet owners and we feel bad when it happens, but it is nature being nature,” he said.

He said the best defense is prevention.

“Keep dogs on a leash and keep them close. Look around often. We get people calling us who said they turned around and there was a coyote. Take off the headphones. Be aware of your surroundings. Carry something that makes noise,” he said.

He suggests a little air horn that can be purchased for a few dollars just about anywhere and another suggestion to put coins or rocks into a tin can which can be shaken.

“Coyotes are a species in 56 counties in California. They are predators and people need to be aware of them, but coyote attacks on humans are extremely rare,” he said.

He said last year, there were only two attacks in the whole state, both in Palm Springs, both to 69-year-old women and a week apart.

“We do not know the correlation,” he said.