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. Chris

    Well, coyote hunting is fun! Get yourself a nice AR built for long range or a nice 22-250/.243 bolt action.

    October 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yote Skinner

      Too noisy for in-town coyote removal.

      A good .22 is enough gun. Put a couple bullets through the torso and it'll run off and die elsewhere, sparing you any clean-up work or annoying questions from lettuce-munching neighbors.

      October 8, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • WASP

      @chris and skinner: may you both be eaten by coyotes..............................or your household pet. 🙂

      October 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      Why in the hell would you like to kill the Coyotes. They will rid our communities of those pesky cats and dogs that the so called pet lovers of America are always defending while stepping on the rights of Human Property Owners. We have dog & cat owners letting their pesky pets run loose & wild defecating on & around our property. In my opinion , if u don't have a place for your dog or cat to use the bathroom, you should not be allowed to own a pet. Your Neighbors Yard is not your Dog or Cats Private Bathroom. Even if you pick it u does not remove the stain & SMELL, that it leaves. I'M ALL FOR COYOTES IN MY HOOD!

      October 8, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Karl

    Since the natural predators that keep the coyote population in check have for the most part moved on, the number of Coyotes has exploded in many areas. At some point humans need to intervene to keep the population in check. We screwed up by developing too much of their habitat however it's too late to change that in many areas.

    October 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Corey

    A dingo ate my baby!

    October 8, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Galaxy Prime

    Well, as long as these coyotes don't put on roller skates and strap 'Acme' rockets to their backs to chase roadrunners, I won't have a problem with them.

    October 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. WASP

    well what this articule left out was that north america has two types of coyote. the first type which is in the above photo covers most of america and is well known, the second type called the north-eastern coyote is a bit larger and hunts in packs. scienctists are thinking the coyotes in the north-eastern part of america mated with the wolves there and created a hybrid. seeing wolves and coyotes are both canines that is plausible. a few people out hiking have been attacked and one that i remember hearing about was killed, a female hiker.
    coyotes like any wild animal always pose a slight risk, it's just knowing what lives in your area and taking proper precautions to safeguard against them.
    that's why i love the old saying " speak softly but carry a big stick." 🙂

    October 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jdoe

    Hmm... I wonder what kind of dishes you can make out of coyote.

    October 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. glades2

    In the past year we've also had coyote problems in suburban Fort Lauderdale (USA) – last year we had sightings of bears and a considerable wild boar problem, too – no joking...

    October 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      That's the inevitable results of our having destroyed all of their natural wild habitats. Where do you expect these animals to go?

      October 9, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  8. Landsandgrooves

    Harmless to people? Tell that to 19-year old Taylor Mitchell, who was killed by coyotes.

    October 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      Taylor Mitchell was a low life that the Coyotes wouldn't even eat.

      October 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      May Jomo enjoy the same fate.

      October 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      A quick google search on the topic, and I've learned that she was a. only the second human fatality from a coyote attack in North American history and b. she was the only adult ever killed by coyotes in North America. And it's said that the behavior was so out of the norm that either the coyotes involved had to have been sick, or really young and desperate for food. So, yeah, despite her death, coyotes are clearly not really a danger to humans.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ka-boom

    "Here, they’re able to maintain their social structure..." Not with a .410 in the mix they aren't.

    October 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jimmy Cracorn

    A dingo ate your baby. and my auts chihuahua.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lynn

    This is not news. In Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah that I know of coyotes have roamed neighborhoods since 1930. If you keep your pets – dogs (little ones) and cats in, then they don't bother you. The coyotes are not aggressive and are shy so man can live with them. Plus, killing coyotes can lead to rodent problems and rodents carry diseases and cause more problems. Talk about new news, not something that in the western US has been around for decades . Mt lions come in when there is a draught, they will go away.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • dpcfoh

      It may not be news to those four states, but there are another 44 (not including Hawaii and Alaska) that might find it an interesting story. Just because the story doesn't apply to YOU doesn't mean that it doesn't apply to millions of other people. YOU are not why CNN exists.

      October 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Greg E

    We've had a pack of them living in the wetlands area behind our house for many years now, and I love hearing them yipping at night, or after an emergency vehicle's siren activates them. They do a great job keeping the rodents and stray pets under control. There are lots of young kids and small dogs in the community, and we've NEVER had any incidents of coyotes being any kind of threat.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. albert

    Good, I would never shoot one, we have several in our area and they control the cat problem, cats are over grown rats and eat mice and birds that have dangerous fleas

    October 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Robert

    Los Angeles has a large herd of Coyotes (100+) they cause little problems.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dpcfoh

    I just saw one crossing the road near my house yesterday as I was heading in the direction of a more populous part of the Cleveland suburbs. I hear them in the country near me at night, but this was the first I saw in a residential neighborhood. As long as they don't bother me, I won't bother them, and they can have all the skunks they want from my neighborhood.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
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