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

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

    I've seen Coyotes in my yard in the City of Largo Florida.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Steve

    I'm in Kingston Ontario (halfway between Montreal and Toronto) and we have them in the rural area's around the city. They don't seem to be bothering anyone, except at night when they howl, so I think we should just leave them alone.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Donna

    Leave them alone

    October 9, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
    • elf

      Watch your pets AND very young children. A upscale lakeside community in Los Angeles has had multiple dogs and cats eaten by local coyotes jumping 6 foot high fences. 6 of my immediate neighbors' pets in the last year were eaten. Never leave pets out at night or even children unattended in back yards if you live in a coyote zone...They've become quite brazen.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Elf, it's rather humerous to hear a human calling a coyote brazen. It's a kettle black situation.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. KennyFNG

    Just taking back what was their's to begin with.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nathalie

    Let's not forget it isn't the animals who are penetrating the urban landscape, it is the urban landscape that is penetrating their original habitat. They were here long before we were.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. Sara

    I live on a golf course in suburban West Michigan, and we have two coyotes who took up residence in the wild grasses on one hole. What's frightening is that it's been out during the day, lurking around the entire neighborhood as children play outside. The mothers have to be on extra careful watch while their toddlers play in their sandboxes. They seem to not be afraid of the adults, to be honest. A few times, they've skulked across yards heedless of people. At night, our neighbor was out on her screen porch with a pair of cats and both animals started hissing like mad. A coyote was right up against the screen, really fearless and growling. She went inside immediately with the cats, terrified. Thing is, you can't shoot one if you're within 150 feet of another house or something silly like that; it's terrible! I love animals and I understand that they may adapt toward new habitats, but these are particularly frightening...and it seems we just have to live in anxiety of these wild animals, since no one can legally get rid of them.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
    • alf564

      Now you have an idea of how birds, rabbits, lizards, etc, feel when a domestic house cat comes calling...or should I say arrives to eat them for fun !!

      October 9, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. TJ

    I'm from Mesa, AZ, which borders a national park. Bobcats come into neighborhoods within several miles of the park. However, I have seen coyotes well within the city– a good 6 or 7 miles from the park borders.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jay

    I've see them on my property in Andover, NJ. They move very fast and run away when they see someone.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. Don

    The other day a possum waddled through my yard, glared at me and then kept going. (He was a BIG guy too!)

    October 9, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. steve

    Columbia md has them. city of over 100k, and there are a couple that visit the mall at night to forage.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  11. georgebushSR

    Here in vegas we cant leave them alone unfortunately, some get pretty big around the size of boxers and run around in groups of 2 or more stalking cats and small dogs, unfortunately they tend to like the easy kills of little animals trapped in backyards :(, had to see a whole pack that got its territory surrounded get snuffed out and redistributed :(.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. RLove

    I live in Plano, TX and wildlife in the neighborhood has been a common occurrence. Coyotes, bobcats, and skunks are still plentiful in my ten year old development. I have personally relocated 30 rabbits further out into the country. Others that have commented are correct – we're invading their habitat, not the other way around.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Realist

      If you're really believed that "invading their habitat" nonsense you'd pack up and go back to NYC.

      October 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Marc

    Get a hunting license and start shooting the mangy critters. If you think they are cute and remind you of Wille E, just wait until one kills your dog or attacks a child in your neighborhood. The coyote population in Arizona is out of control... I took a hunting safety course given by the Airzona Department of Game & Fish and even they said... "shoot um". "please"

    October 9, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. Valerie

    Did any of you read the article??? All I see are post after post of people in places like Arizona and Texas spouting off about Coyotes in their area..............HELLO?????????????? There are SUPPOSED to be Coyotes there! The article is about them showing up in urban areas like Chicago and New York. I live in Chicago, for those of you obviously UNaware, seeing Coyotes running down the street is not exactly an everyday occurrence. It's like seeing a grizzly bear standing on Michigan Avenue..........hahaha!

    October 9, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mary Patricia

    Anyone who leaves a small child or pet unattended during coyote hours or inside their pathways & habitat is the one accountable for their loss by ingestion. Since 1999 in CAPE MAY, NJ my local coyote family group sings melodiously throughout the fields in the wee hours.They know us, trust us, traverse our property with stops for a drink of water and a snack (I leave these items out for them), and a pose for photos. We have walked with them down the road with our dogs and our cats who follow along for the exercise and in 12 years have never lost a pet to these beautiful and sentient creatures. When we indicate for them to leave they leave as well, usually if there are tourists about on bikes or too many cars coming down the road which make it unsafe for them. We have seen their pups grow up and we still have our wild bunnies, deer but no mice, water rats, moles or other pests typical of country homes by the sea. They love the beach and swim at night in hot weather. They eat fruit, seeds, crickets and some vegetables as well as meat. The American Indians designate them as "the tricksters", beings who are highly adaptable & "portable" (can relocate anywhere and thrive), and a symbol of flexibility and change. They who seem like dangerous pests are really a gift hiding in nature helping us and teaching us how to bend with the winds of change. They are not by nature vicious.

    October 9, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Realist

      Coyotes have attacked children in fenced yards, inside neighborhoods that have been urbanized for two centuries or more.

      Coyotes are not native to New Jersey. Humans were there first. Though Mary makes a strong case for some humans being too dim-witted to take seriously.

      October 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16