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. debbie

    I remember reading something about stray dogs in Moscow riding the subway – getting on at one stop, off at another, sitting quietly during the ride. Think of wildlife becoming sophisticated and urban; delivering pizza for Domino's. Consider it: wildlife coming not to feed on us, but to feed us.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jcluma

    Moscow urban legends - love debbie's version. I live in L.A. and woke up once to the cry of my cat outside and rushed out to find it was being carried away by a coyote in front of my house! I screamed and ran at it and it dropped my cat and took off - but not before turning around as if to say - "I'll be back for you." It seemed fearless. Yet I identify with the needs these wild animals all have to survive when they live in or around cities and urban areas. They are great animals and need to be protected and not destroyed when their impact is minimal, which is often the case.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      Not an urban legend at all. Look it up.

      October 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • jboHDrider

      They are scavangers and should be shot on sight. They will eat your cat, your dog, your pot bellie pig and anything else it can get its fangs on and I would not be surprised to hear about infants or small children.

      October 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      "The dingo got my baby!"

      October 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. not enuff

    i have a coyote caller,and a semi-automatic rifle with 30 round magazine. i don't have alot of problems with them.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cboix3

      lol i got the extend clip and a thermal for nightime. aint no worrying.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • RickMeister

      ...does mental illness run in your family?

      October 10, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • CullThePopulace

      You ARE the problem.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      I see the tolerant liberials are out in force.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. yankeeshogun

    Back yard, CNN. Back yard. It's two words. Do you write side yard? Frontyard? Leftear? Rightfoot? No! Back yard is TWO WORDS.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • yankeeshogun

      (I meant to write sideyard...)

      October 9, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Name*anonymous

    its sad how everyone goes to shooting them when its not their fault that we are over populating. They need to find food and shelter some how to.

    October 10, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • GotU

      Appears you do not know all of the facts. It's not that we are over populating Coyotes were NOT native to my area of the country but, have over populated and migrated here over time. In fact, in NJ one tried to make off with a baby. So, if the Coyote was just being a Coyote when I see one in my yard I will act accordingly as the top predator as they do not belong in suburbia.

      October 10, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. fb0252

    how about leaving all the wild critters some food.

    October 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Solient Green

      October 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Realist

      Many "wild critters" will be more than happy to feed on a dead coyote.

      October 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Scott

    They really need to end this hockey shut down.

    October 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Aaron Gross

    I have some cats these guys can come eat........

    October 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AncientChineseSecret

    Hmmm... maybe Egg Foo 'Yote on the menu soon!

    October 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Todd

    Unless, they got rabbies

    October 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jake

    I kill several every year. They are getting thick around my area. There pelts brought decent $ last year. All you need is a call and a good .223 and this problem gets taken care of.

    October 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. j0eschm0e

    May be soon hanging out in my back yard? ummm theyre already here. Ive been hearing them "group yowl" at 4 -4:30 am several times over the last couple weeks. sometimes early in the night 9 or 10 pm. roughly a football field away, they are pretty loud. as I live within 300 feet of the woods, who's back yard is it? i try to keep my cat in at night. lol

    October 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. j0eschm0e

    May be soon hanging out in my back yard? Too late, they're already here.

    October 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rhee Cycle

    It would be nice if they'd help control the deer population, which is a huge problem, and not controlled by hunting here in Northern Va. Not sure if they hunt and eat deer that much, but perhaps they can learn.

    Wolves might be the answer.....

    October 10, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TheBigOne

    Coyotes are relatively common in Southern California urban areas. I've seen one in my yard, several miles from the San Gabriel Mtns and at Brackett air field in Pomona.

    October 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
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