The coyote playfully pounces toward its new friend, a badger, before the duo trots off together into a culvert underneath a highway near the Santa Cruz Mountains area.
The black-and-white video clip of the animals has garnered viral attention on social media — and from the wildlife nonprofit organizations that believe the clip is the first to capture such behavior in San Francisco.
Scientific studies and Native American records indicate the two predators are known to hunt and roam together, but the coyote’s playful body language toward the first glimpse of the badger’s snout in the frame especially took wildlife groups by surprise, according to the Peninsula Open Space Trust, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit.
“We were speechless,” said Neal Sharma, the nonprofit’s wildlife linkages program manager.
Sharma said he received a text from Pathways for Wildlife, another nonprofit organization, last month after its researchers went through the first batch of data.
“We got something,” the text read, according to Sharma.
More than 50 cameras were installed near the Santa Cruz Mountains area, between San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay, in 2018 as part of a study to identify roadkill hot spots and learn how wildlife navigates the landscape peppered with highways.
The video clip, captured in November, is only a snapshot into the bulk of still images and videos collected thus far.
Deer, a puma’s footprints, a gray fox, raccoon, skunks and a variety of snakes and birds have also made appearances on camera.
Sharma said they hope to finish analyzing data by 2021 and leverage ways to help provide these critters with the necessary resources to thrive.