The coyote (Canis latrans) is referred to by many as the most successful modern-day predator, and understandably so. In the wake of intense 19th and 20th century predator control programs, the coyote was the one species to come out better off than before. While the home ranges of wolves, mountain lions and bears decreased dramatically, the coyote expanded its range from the open grasslands and prairies of the western United States and southwestern Canada to encompass all U.S. states, excluding Hawaii, stretching as far east as New Brunswick, Canada and as far south as Central America. The adaptability and intelligence of this animal has even lead its taking up residence in most major cities, including areas such as Central Park in New York City. One look at Central Park and the surrounding areas on Google Earth says it all.
How and why the species has become a success story is fascinating. The coyote has matched human success with its own. In a sense, we literally paved the way for their thriving expanse. Agricultural practices and development coupled with the removal of the gray and red wolf from the land set the stage. The rest is now history.
One can assume that as urban sprawl continues the likelihood of human-coyote interactions will rise creating a need for information on this animal and its relationship with the human-dominated urban environment. Relatively speaking, few studies have been conducted on the urban coyote. The few that have occurred provide information about its behaviors and ecology (see below for links to these studies). The longest and most in-depth study on urban coyotes (2000-present) is being conducted in Cook County, Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Stanley Gehrt of Ohio State University is the senior scientist supervising the project. With the use of radio-telemetry (i.e., tracking coyote movements with GPS collars) Dr. Gehrt and his colleagues have found that residents of Cook County, almost unknowingly, coexist daily with coyotes. In other words coyotes generally cause few issues. But with that said, when a coyote does cause an issue, which can be as insignificant as a distant sighting, it can create quite a stir.
Research strongly suggests that understanding the coyote’s role in nature can help to ease concerns and minimize conflicts. This understanding also leads us to recognize that we share an essential trait with the coyote which has led to our success as a species – the ability to adapt to the ever changing environment. Maybe we have more in common than meets the wild eye?
Here we present information from current scientific studies and offer tips for living with coyotes.
Biology – Appearance, Weight, Diet, Coydogs, Coywolves
Ecology – Transient vs Resident, Territories/Activity Patterns
Management – Non-lethal methods, Lethal methods, Coyote Encounters