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. WOw

    I was doing my 5am regular outdoor run and a large coyote stepped out in front of me. I live near the mountains in Las Vegas, so we have coyotes around here, but this was near a busy street in the suburbs. No more running in the wee hours of the morning unless its in the gym!
    We also have scorpions in our house about once a month.

    October 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • fred

      Coyotes are dangerous predators that will hunt in packs if food is scarce. Kids and adults are potential prey. Also they are fast breeders and will quickly overpopulate an area. In my father's day people shot them on sight. Today they are protected along with wolves and bears so predator opoulations are increasing rapidly. People today are unarmed and therfore largely unprotected from attack. It is just a matter of time before the predator populations reach great enough levels that people will be on the menu. It will be a shame if this is allowed to happen based on an erroneous view of nature and conservation.

      October 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Buz

    They are predators
    , and small children can be their prey. Keep that in mind nature lovers.

    October 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • JerseyGuy

      This has already happen here a few times, in NJ of all places.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. divinemsmstl

    We are in the STL 'burbs, near the airport & within a mile of at least 2 busy interstate highways.

    We regularly see coyotes, hawks, 'possums, and the occasional groundhog, in addition to the usual squirrels and rabbits, passing through our yard and our subdivision. The hawks like to hang around the interstate on-ramps (easy roadkill pickins'). We've even seen them on the street light pole just a couple of feet from our driveway ... they don't seem to be fazed by the cars passing or even when we pull into our drive!

    Most of our neighbors have small dogs, but they know better now than to let them out unleashed and/or unattended, since we began seeing coyotes.

    October 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. This just in

    Parents, it's not the coyote's fault you can't watch your kids anymore than it's the coyote's fault there's no land left.

    October 8, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Being on your kids case 24 hours a day is a modern obsession. Were you watched this closely when you were growing up? I was going where I liked at 10 and taking myself to school on the other side of a major city at 11. My grandfathers were in work at 14. Stop babying the kids and maybe they will grow up better. American kids are treated like precious little infants until they turn 18 and are suddenly expected to be adults. In the UK at 16 I could have joined the army or got married, my teachers addressed me as Mr and expected me to behave like an adult and get my work done without my mother and father having to tell me what to do.

      October 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. cja

    As humans expand into their territory what else would you expect. Inmany cases the animals did not come here, but where here first. Coyotes are one good reason NOT to let your small pets roam free. But cars are another good reason.

    October 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bryan

    you just cant make this up....the people of chicago arent inclined to take of thier families but the coyotes do a good job.

    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.

    October 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Landshark

    I wouldn't be surprised as we already have foxes, deer, snakes turkeys and so much more.

    October 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dazzle ©

    I am far from a tree hug ger but I do have a great respect for the outdoors and native wildlife. Urban sprawl is causing coyotes and other wildlife to leave the natural habitat to search for food elsewhere. I've had many close encounters with the creatures while camping and hiking without any negative consequences. For those who have lost a pet to a coyote, its your fault for not watching your animal. I have cats and they are totally indoor felines. I would be more concerned about some of the human filth walking the streets than encountering a coyote.

    October 8, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dave

    of course people will be up in arms that these animals are in their neighborhood and saying they are invading their home.....but they fail to realize that MAN is who invaded THEIR home first...its not like they are just now coming to your home as something new.....but you can do alot to coexist with them by locking down your trash, not feeding your dog/cat outside or anything else that will bring them to your property/home....

    October 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dazzle ©

    Comment awaiting moderation again. No wonder folks don't blog much anymore on this network.

    October 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wanda

      They always moderate this site but the moderator is quick to post the comments he/she likes and dismiss the rest

      October 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alfred E. Neuman

    A vote for Romney and the NRA will ensure the demise of the coyote.

    October 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mxdominios

    What would QB Jay Cutler do if he comes face to face with a coyote?

    October 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Totally Awesome

      Call in Adam Podlesh, of course.

      October 8, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Wanda

    They are not new neighbors and should certainly be treated with respect. They are actually very beautiful creatures. We have tons of them around here and the only real problem is they eat cats. With that said, if you're stupid enough to leave your cat out at night then don't be surprised if Fluffy isn't around in the morning. There are specific rules to adhere by when living amongst coyotes and if you follow them this is not an issue. In typical fashion, people make more out of this than need be.

    October 8, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jon Campbell

    Just north of Minneapolis, I clear out Coyotes for farmers.. I got 2 this past weekend and made 50 bucks!!!

    October 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mary

    My question is, what will be left of the wild kingdom for man to rule over if WE keep encroaching on their habitat.

    October 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • duckforcover

      Exactly right! They are not our neighbors; we are becoming theirs. I'm happy to live in an area with grizzly and black bears, coyotes, and cougars. It's a sign I'm in right place. P.S. If this doesn't work for you please feel free NOT to move to the North Cascades!

      October 8, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      We mostly stopped hunting them, at least in California, so they have rebounded and are now returning to their old ranges. I see hawks out of my office window every day. My city is right on the SF bay and we have turkeys roaming the streets.

      October 8, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • sbp

      "to rule over"? Is that what you THINK you're doing? Whatever you need to make you feel important, I guess. Personally, I think mosquitos rule over me.

      October 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
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