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. ThaGerm

    I remember my mom telling me of stories of the Coyotes in SoCal when I was a kid...I am 38. Maybe it takes a while for the east coast to catch up?

    October 10, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • guesscrab

      They're in every county in Pennsylvania,, including Philadelphia. Not sure since when though.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jerry

    If you know what you're looking for you can find them all over in and around Detroit.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SheepRancher

    Fools, The last attack of dogs running with coyotes, killed 2 lambs, mauled 30 sheep.
    Now lets make sure you understand, Female sheep at 150 lbs, inside 5 foot high fencing.
    The coyotes cleared two 5 foot fences; How many subdivisions have 5 foot fence...?
    You make sure you LOOK your kids in the eyes, When you tell them its OK...

    October 11, 2012 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. fltnsplr

    Coyotes have been a fact of life in Southern California for many years. When I lived in a canyon (yes, in a house), there were periods of visitation, mostly generated by the enormous fires of 2003 and 2007, followed by periods of absence. Rabbits and squirrels, and the occasional stray cat were plentiful enough to attract and feed them. They were also not particularly afraid of humans, although a well-aimed chunk of the local mineral deposits (better known as a rock) could produce a meaty thunk and cause the peripatetic canines to have second thoughts about extending their stay.

    October 11, 2012 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. Scott Jefferson

    Well, looks like i am getting my old .22 out...

    October 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ernest

      I think .22 is too little and the animal will suffer. So please, use a bigger caliber. Thank you.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jimi

    I live in Wisconsin, about a half hour north of Milwaukee. This article is far too late. They are and have been my neighbors for many years.

    October 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sojobuffalo

    The Eastern Coyote has been migrating further south along the Delaware bay in southern New jersey. I recently had on on our back porch. Our cat is now an indoor cat & we don't leave it's food outside anymore.

    October 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |

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

    October 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jerseydevils76

    We need more roadrunners.

    October 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. pat friedl

    we have them in Tulsa OKlahoma, city & state officials won't do anything about them. You are on your own as for protecting kids & pets.

    October 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Coastal

    It's not their fault – it's ours.. We are encroaching on every piece of land we can find and clearing it and building. What other choice do they have? Do people honestly think it's their preference to run through yards and scavenge trash cans.

    October 12, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Realist

      The usual whining tree-hugger nonsense.

      Coyotes are moving into human neighborhoods which have been coyote-free for decades, even centuries. They're moving into human neighborhoods where there have never been coyotes: coyotes are not native animals in the eastern US and Canada.

      Like any other non-native pest species they need to be controlled.

      October 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tim Howard

    OH GREAT! NOW we'll have to worry about Acme safes and anvils falling on folks in the burbs from great heights....

    October 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ms. Anne

      LOL!!!! Can't stop laughing!

      October 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sam

    maybe, unless you live in Montana where they kill everything that has fur. Don't worry people. If its natural, walks on all fours and is beautiful we're Americans.....we'll kill it.

    October 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Vic

    Hey there Little Red Riding Hood, I'd like to taste you if I could...................Oh dear! Oh dear!! This misquoted song is coming true!!!!!! Better kill ALL the predators in this world to make us endangered humans nice and safe and able to sleep at night. Ban the coyote boogie man!!!

    October 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jeff

    NH, ME, and VT have had Coyote for decades. They only make headlines today locally when one is spotted in a MA neighborhood munching on someones pooch. There has been a recent ( and fatal to a human) attack by non-rabid coyotes in the Maritimes of Canada.

    October 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
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