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. Geff

    Why the fear of Coyotes? The proper function of fear is caution. It seems that Americans like to kill everything they fear. I actually read nothing about problems posed by the coyotes.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank T.

      Coyotes are everyday news in my small Texas town. Four people bitten here in the last 2 years, and dozens of cats and dogs fall prey here all the time. Depends on where you live as to the scope of the problem.

      October 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • rynew

      We live in the very center of Los Angeles, in Studio City. Wednesday I found a portion of our neighbor's cat in our yard. Coyotes had ripped the large cat apart. Recently 3 coyotes attacked a whole and her dog; ripping the leashed dog out of her hand. Children have died due to attacks by packs of coyotes. I feel sorry for the coyotes, but in an urban environment I value human safety more. They no longer trap or kill coyotes in Los Angeles and they are truly becoming a problem. We have to come up with realistic answers to this problem.

      rynew

      October 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • hurricane

      @rynew... There has been ONE person killed in America by coyotes in the last 50 years. Quit lying.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • rynew

      (I have to read my submissions before I send them.)

      We live in the very center of Los Angeles, in Studio City. Wednesday I found a portion of our neighbor's cat in our yard. Coyotes had ripped the large cat apart. Recently 3 coyotes attacked a women and her dog; ripping the leashed dog out of her hands. Children have died due to attacks by packs of coyotes. I feel sorry for the coyotes, but in an urban environment, I value human safety more. They no longer trap or kill coyotes in Los Angeles and coyotes are truly becoming a problem. We have to come up with realistic answers to this problem.

      rynew

      October 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • anton bayer

      coyotes are a threat to any pet you may have my dog has had many fights with them two feet from my house. They also some times will attack small children. One big problem is they are inter breeding with large dogs and they are getting larger. I have seen coyotes over 100 lbs and bigger than the wolfs I saw at the Cleveland Zoo. They hunt in packs could take on 3 or 4 100lb coyotes. They are very cunning and fast I will never pass on shooting one.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • rynew

      reply to Hurricane: We live close to Glendale, California.

      In August, 1981, in Glendale, California, Kelly was left by her mother, Cathy, in the living room to watch cartoons. The three-year old girl left through the front door of the family's Chevy Chase Canyon home and wandered into the driveway, where she encountered a coyote. The coyote took the child in its mouth and ran off, dragging her through the street. Kelly's father, Robert, came running quickly, chased the coyote off, and rushed Kelly to the Glendale Adventist Hospital, where she was in surgery for four hours before she died.[1][2] The cause of death was a broken neck and blood loss as a direct result of the coyote attack.

      For us, this needless death is too much.

      Both my wife and I have been challenged by coyotes as we've walked in the morning. I'd also like Hurricane to face the children next door, and talk to them about their recent loss of their cat in our yard.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mimi

      Rynew you are full of BS and misinformation. NO child has been killed in california by coyotes in 40 years. Get your facts straight. Yes, they hunt. They are a necessary part of the eco-system.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mona

      Rynew, I live in the same area, you are a liar. Thankfully most people like the coyotes, bear and mountain lions around here. Do us all a favor and move!!!

      October 8, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Andrew

    Um, coyote have been my neighbors for a really long time.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Meyer C. Dhoates

    We invaded the coyotes territory. They have as much right to live where they do, just as other "wild" critters do. Leave them alone and they will do the same.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Evenstar13

    What does this say about our civilization today. We have far more than we need and these animals are surviving on what is being discarded.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Everything will be illuminated soon enough

    Its not because its easier to find food that wild things are coming closer, they have always had the skill set to survive. Think about it... the food is either moved into the cities, stop existing, stopped being a part of the diet or the large animals have something bigger than us or themselves to deal with in the forests ....Any one of these should give pause to us Humans .... its another part of the puzzle as to what the earth is doing right now. Drastic change is coming be aware.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dino

    Adopt one as a pet. Keep him fenced in your backyard and get a road runner for him to play with.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. uisignorant

    They have been my neighbors for years.
    I am glad they are there, they took care of the cats!

    October 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Writing for Mass Media Class

    Your credibility is at stake...

    October 8, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Guest

    So a developer will buy hundreds of acres of land the coyotes have been living on for generations and build tons of houses – and then the homeowners will wonder why there are coyotes in their back yard? They were there before you, so live with it.

    I have coyotes in my yard all the time. Trust me, they are more afraid of you than you are of them. Let them be.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yup

      I live in a 50 year old neighborhood and the coyotes just starting showing up last year; it is assumed the recent drought drove them towards the city. They are killing any pets that are unfortunate enough to get loose, and have approached folks on their early morning walks in a threatening manner. They pose a threat to the small kids in the neighborhood, and that is reality.

      I don't advocate a mass hunt, nor do I cry for the "rights" of these animals to co-exist with me. I live in a major metropolitan area and this is happening all over the city. It's a real problem that needs a humane and unpoliticized solution.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Guest

    We live in Las Vegas, NV, had have coyotes and bobcats in our neighborhood. They pretty much just run off when they see us, and it's great to get to see wildlife living in their natural environment. We used to have burros too, but they were relocated for their protection.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Howard

    FIVE small dogs have been attacked in back yards here in the Chicago area in the 6 weeks...The coyote reportedly "jumped" a fence and tried to walk off with a small terrier so watch your pets during outdoor breaks....

    October 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    If you have a small dog, coyotes will attack it and carry it off. Coyotes in Phx, Az are traveling long distances into the developed neighborhoods and that's very unusal, this is due to homes being built in their environment and they have nowhere to go. Occasionally, I've seen them crossing the road in small packs and that's scary.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Talon

    Urban Invasion? Really? So, we push and squeeze animals into smaller and smaller areas and then talk about them invading our turf? Seriously people get a grip!

    Lived in Huntington Beach, CA for seven years, coyotes been living here much longer than I have!

    October 8, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Walter

    Given the lax regulations with the welfare system, I wouldn't be surprised if they found a way to survive on government handouts.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Seldom Seen Mike

    We need more Coyotes and less Swinus Americanus.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
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