Coyotes may soon be hanging out in your backyard
A coyote is seen on a golf course in La Quinta, California, in 2010.
October 8th, 2012
08:51 AM ET

Coyotes may soon be hanging out in your backyard

“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!”

Those creatures  had Dorothy worried on the yellow brick road in "The Wizard of  Oz" and now you may need to worry about seeing them and other large carnivores in your backyard, an Ohio State University researcher says.

OK, there shouldn’t be any tigers they aren’t found in the wild in North America but lions (mountain), bears, wolves and coyotes are finding urban areas to be just right for a comfortable existence, says Stan Gehrt, an associate professor of environment and natural resources.

Gehrt says coyotes are leading the urban invasion by formerly rural carnivores.

“The coyote is the test case for other animals. Raccoons, skunks, foxes – they’ve already been able to penetrate the urban landscape pretty well. The coyote is the most recent and largest,” Gehrt said in a university press release.

One pack of coyotes has established a territory and is thriving about five miles from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, the third busiest airport in the country, according to Budget Travel.

“That’s an indication that they don’t have to go far to find food and water. They’re finding everything they need right there, in the suburbs of Chicago,” Gehrt said.

Coyotes spotted in New York City

And he said the urban environments may be even better than rural ones for the coyotes, with pups surviving in urban areas at five times the rate they do in rural settings.

“They’re so adaptable and so opportunistic,” Gehrt said. “In adjusting to urban life, they may change dietary items and habitat use, and become nocturnal, whereas in the country they’re active day and night. But with other things, they don’t change at all. Here, they’re able to maintain their social structure, territorialism, packs and mating system, even in the face of all these challenges of trying to live among 9 million people.”

In an earlier release, Gehrt said one trait that may be helping coyotes thrive in urban areas is their monogamy, which means dads are around to help raise the kids.

“If the female were to try to raise those large litters by herself, she wouldn’t be able to do it. But the male spends just as much time helping to raise those pups as the female does,” he said.

The urban coyotes pose little danger to humans, Gert said, and can be easily scared off by yelling at them or throwing a rock at them.

“You’re doing them a favor. They show a healthy respect and fear of people and that’s the way it should be,” he said.

Have you seen a large carnivore in the city? Tell us about it.

They also eat rodents and even bugs which can pose dangers to human health, he said. Of course, they may also eat your dog or cat.

The abundance of carnivore food may also bring larger carnivores into urban settings.

Gehrt said a mountain lion was recently killed in the Wrigleyville area of Chicago.

Sightings of mountain lions and bears in suburban areas are increasingly common. And they can pose a bigger danger to humans.

“They are going to be an even bigger challenge,” Gehrt said.

Mountain lion shot dead in California

Gehrt’s coyote research has been going on for 12 years. His team has tracked about 680 coyotes by placing radio collars on them.

Gehrt spoke at the EcoSummit 2102 in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday.

Mountain lion treks from Dakotas to Connecticut

Mountain lion hunt in Ohio

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Filed under: Animals • Bears • Coyotes • Mountain lions
soundoff (397 Responses)
  1. Alex

    Think about this. Democrats support racial affirmative action programs in employment and college programs. Think before you vote.

    October 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • ericmpaul

      What does your posing have to do with Coyotes?

      October 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Radical

      Both democrats and republicans could be compared to coyotes this election, huh? Vote 3rd party. Get these bozos off the mainstream path.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. Alex

    Please be aware that the Democrats support racial affirmative action programs in employment and college programs. Think before you vote.

    October 12, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Ben Franklin

    Coyotes frequently make it all the way to the beach in San Clemente / Dana Point California but have never seen them get into ocean. They are known to kill small pets here.

    October 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. John

    We have had them for 14+ years wandering through every night. They don't bother anyone but you need to bring your cats in at night. Very healthy to have wildlife around. Keeps the rats which we have under control and mice.

    October 13, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Pork shortage

    Eat coyote

    October 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. geneticroadkill

    I live across from the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, where a clan of coyotes live. They cruise up the sidewalks in our neighborhood and they do eat cats in the daytime and nighttime. Like hawks and birds of prey, they have had to change their dining habits due to loss of land and now hunt during the day. The coyotes are currently eating the gorgeous geese who just arrived for fall. Only stupid people allow their cats out in my neighborhood. Needless to write, we have many stupid people.

    October 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. cpc65

    There's a few small, yappy dogs on my street that I wouldn't mind becoming part of the food chain.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. cpc65

    You'd think we'd first see roadrunners in the cities, then the coyotes.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. cpc65

    I saw a coyote going down my street on a pair of ACME rocket skates!

    October 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. gdaym8

    I hear they are starting to register to vote.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. crabman

    the tree freaks must be very proud

    October 18, 2012 at 6:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Porchia

    Coyotes are a menace. We shoot first, ask questions later when we see them.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • oirish

      That's terrible. There is no good reason to shoot a coyote. They're scared of you!

      November 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
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