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. BJ

    They run down the golf course at night looking for mostly rabbits, though I've seen fewer of those around this year, so the coyotes' diets must be mainly mice now. My husband was cornered by one while walking our big dog. It started howling at him, as if he were calling the rest of the pack, so my husband went behind a car in a driveway, called me, and I went to pick them up! Now he carries mace with him on their walks.

    October 8, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • aMom

      The advice in the article to "yell or throw a rock at them" did not comfort me when I read it. Coyotes are smart and some are learning that they do not have anything to fear from humans. That makes them more dangerous.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • History Bear

      They coyote was most interested in your dog. They do occasionally cross mate, and if it was an "ankle biter" he was prospecting dinner. Unless rabid or starving and in a pack , coyotes pose absolutely no threat to people.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  2. Truth

    Things like this never happened until Obama became president. After his reelection in November i bet people start marrying animals.

    October 8, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Xenu

      It might even rain frogs.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • vatoloke

      Now you can at last get 'some'. Go for it.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. vatoloke

    "Eat more lamb. 60,000 coyotes can't be wrong."

    October 8, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • History Bear

      With mint jelly of course. One of my favorite dishes.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. gager

    Now it's easier spotting coyotes in urban areas that the wild.

    October 8, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. George

    Road Runner is the name of my 12 gauge pump-action shotgun.
    If anyone thinks that having predators living in urban areas is a good thing, they need to go out into the forest for a while and encounter a few predators.

    October 8, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      I've have encountered MANY predators in the wild. They have never been interested in me. I do worry about the ones that become habituated to humans though.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Randy

    We had one in our neighbors backyard a couple of months ago: About 12 miles east of Los Angeles in heavily populated suburbia. The smaller wildlife have been appearing for many years in our neighborhoods.

    October 8, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    "The urban coyotes pose little danger to humans"- unless they've decided to go after your dog, in which case they have no problem attacking.

    October 8, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Vermont Hunter

      Wrong, they will eventuallu pose problems... shoot them while you can.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. Vermont Hunter

    They are not furry and nice.... shoot them whenever I see them. They will go after your kids, dogs, cats, calves etc. Don't want to be in the woods after dark without a gun. Nasty critters that are good for target practice. Although I do like hearing them howl in the mountains at night.

    October 8, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • aMom

      I know what you mean about the howling. Our dogs will howl right along w/ them from our fenced-in yard.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • nicnic

      Domestic dogs are a bigger threat than coyotes. Learn to live with those who are different.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Oakspar

      Or shoot the feral dogs as well. Around here, the coys and dogs interbreed – so most coys are coy/dogs and most feral dogs have at least some coy in them.

      We shoot them all on sight to protect the livestock.

      Remember, Coys are not threatened wildlife pushed out of the wild. They are thriving wildlife expanding territories emptied by man pushing out wolves and cougars.

      Bring back the wolves and cougars and you will see the coy population plummet.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. Obama's Tunnels

    It is humans who have encroached upon the native habitats of America. This article makes it sound as if wild animals are the encroachers.

    October 8, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Animals of all kinds have always expanded into other animal's territories. Humans are just another animal.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. mecatfish

    One thing they didnt say is that when the population gets large, a disease called parvo runs through the pack. It will also spill over into pet dogs. When lots of coyotes are in the neighborhood, its a matter of time before your dog gets parvo and dies.

    October 8, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • History Bear

      That's why you keep your animals vaccinated aginst parvo and rabies. And yes, nature reduces over population by staration and disease. Only man continues to buck the trend.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Minniyar

      If you're irresponsible enough that you haven't vaccinated your dogs for Parvo, it's your own fault, not the coyotes. Parvo virus sheds in any canine stool (including your neighbors dog) and the virus can remain active in the ground for about a year afterwards. Anywhere you take your dog, if it's unvaccinated, you are at risk of exposing it to parvovirus.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. Edie Koller

    We are in THEIR back yard. I live in San Fernando VAlley and they are all over here, Hollywood hills too .It was their land long before humans were here.

    October 8, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • aMom

      Do you have plans to move?

      October 8, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. Xenu

    I've heard most coyotes are democrat. That's why the democrats dont want them to be required to have a picture ID to vote.

    October 8, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  13. nicnic

    I'd rather live among coyotes than Democrats and Republicans. But I also have four guard dogs on my farm that keeps coyotes away.

    October 8, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      They probably work on Repubs and Dems as well. 🙂

      October 8, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. FltCrkPt

    There are several reports from cattle farmers within a 5 mile strech in my area of calves being killed by coyotes. A calf is no small animal and are surronded by much larger animals. There are many homes here, few farms left I have heard them several times at night packing up and for all the noise tearing into something, not a pleasent sound. They are dangerous and when in packs should not be taken lightly. For the shots, leash laws, pet licensing and insurance reprecutions involving the family dog, I cannot see letting these animals move into and allowed to roam in populated areas.

    October 8, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. Obama's Tunnels under Israel-Egypt too.

    Many states feed deer and elk during the winter to attract hunters the following season. These are deer and elk that would naturally die during winter months. (called 'winter kill') Nature offsets this stupid activity and responds with a huge increase of coyote production.
    It's bad enough that people fool with God, Father Nature. And, "It's *not* nice to fool with mother nature" we all agree.

    October 8, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
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