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. William

    Coyotes have been in the cities for years already. I live in AZ and it's just a fact of life. You can't leave your pets outside.

    October 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • lroy

      I live near an easement and I've been told there are coyotes but none have visited. My neighbor has had deer in the very early morning. Ive had skunks in the yard at night (you live with a skunk visitor, you live with a skunk visitor smell, that's it.). There are hawks who hunt for mice and chipmunks and squirrels. As for the beloved family pet, I feel bad that they're eaten up but I don't want the wild beast to go hungry either. Back to the coyotes-as long as they don't ruin the yard and don't bother me during the day, they are welcome to come and go as they please.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Well Duh

    With man steadily encroaching on the remaining open wilderness is this really a surprise? Humans have been disconnected from nature for a while so this may not all be bad.

    October 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hide Behind

    Coyotes are fun to kill for many killers pretending to be hunters and for some a way to make good money selling their pelts.
    Coyotes are not pack runners per se but do run with their close family. Reason so many people think they are large groups is because yote have a unique ability to give voice to three different sounds at same time.

    Most yotes hunt alone and bring food backto dens if young ones present. Eat mostly small rodents but eat grouse turkey ducks and most of time in summers out here eat tons of blackberry leaves and berty.HYPE almost got them on enda gered list many years ago and they are not hesvy in the wild reaches of forest. ignorance and just plain gotta have something to shoot. or kill alowed poisons and trpping upsetting natural environment of all animals.
    As inlife the ignorant animal is the most
    and ignorance is not a coyote trait,the most
    dangerous of all

    October 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BEAST

    Where's my shot gun?

    October 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Justme

    After losing two cats to coyotes in rural Virginia, I vote the more that can end up as road kill on the interstates or on someone's hood the better! I typically am not a hunting fan, but in this case, absolutely!

    October 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not you

      Or, you could just be a responsible cat owner. Nah, you're right, that would require an effort.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justme

      Both cats disappeared during the day – not at night when they were kept inside.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • lroy

      Just-I'm sorry for the cats but the beasts must've been hungry. I have three myself but they don't go outside....ever if I can help it. The fact is any wild animal will eat your cat if it's hungry enough, even a hawk.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      Sorry to the lady who lost 2 cats. But I doubt it was coyotes, especially during the daytime. The #1 killer of cats is a family member taking them to the shelter. Go ask your Husband and you will find out that he hated the cats and took them away and put the blame on the coyotes.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • hawkechik

      I'm sorry Shawn, but just a couple of weeks ago I had a coyote casually sauntering across the backyard – and this was at approximately noontime. While traditionally a crepuscular animal (active at dawn and dusk) their move into an urban habitat has changed their behavior.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Any fool knows cats are just coyotes cookies.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. crisha

    I have lived in southern Arizona for 35 years, and yes, as William said, coyotes are a fact of life anywhere you live, even smack in the middle of Tucson and Phoenix. And don't forget the javelina and the bobcats.....

    October 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • lroy

      But you got scorpions and rattlesnakes, don't you? I'd take my chances with the coyote, thank you very much..

      October 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. swoosie

    ..and it is no one's fault but ours as humans. Our greed has taken their habitat, as well as thousands of others species' away.

    October 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. swoosie

    just me- i hope you don't bring in more cats. you see, coyotes cannot distinguish between your pet and supper. i feel badly for your cats but not for you.

    October 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justme

      That's funny. You see, I feel sorry for you and your lack of compassion for another human being. I have taken in stray cats and stray dogs – being a responsible owner and having each spayed/neutered.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • lroy

      That's a start, and you should be commended for taking in strays, etc. But she's right. A hungry wild animal will eat whatever's available for a food source (better your cat than a small child, for example). As a cat lover, may I suggest you keep your cats inside at all times. It's safer for them, and they're just as happy climbing on the furniture (trust me on this one).

      October 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. vatoloke

    I'd rather have a full pack of them out here than my stupid neighbor's poor dog.

    October 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lawless4U

    I have to admit, this may actually strengthen the case for carrying weapons. Not so much the coyotes because they run as soon as they see you but mountion lions don't.

    October 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • hawkechik

      Last spring I had a coyote just stand off and stare at me as I was emptying grass clippings from my riding mower. So you cannot depend on them running from you.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lou

    I live in Chicago and have seen coyotes multiple times at the graveyard by my apartment, even foxes.

    October 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      I was just about to post about the Coyotes here around and in Chicago but then they actually wrote about it in this article.....and yes it's true! We have coyotes running around....not often, not usually, but yes, they are here and yes, I have seen them too.....

      October 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. patch vader

    They have been in rural tennessee for years- Nashville suburbs for the last five or 6. I saw a clan crossing the interstate at an overpass- I was stuck in traffic- but the coyotes did not seem to mind and stayed on the overpass sidewalk. Haer them calling at night also.

    October 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sacramento

    Coyotes are like latinos of the animal kingdom: They swarm in, provide little but take much, and you can't get rid of them.

    October 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • kyphi

      what a hateful statement.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Minneapolis, MN

    I live in an old, established first tier suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota and we have had an influx of coyote packs. A couple of people lost their dogs, and as sad as I am for them, I blame them. Our city did a great job of informing all residents and yet people still put their coyote snacks, I mean small dogs, outside on a leash where it sits and waits to be eaten. No animal should be left on a leash outside alone ever, for any reason, coyotes or not. Anyway, I digress, I might normally be afraid of the coyotes, but I've come to love them as they have successfully diminished the over abundance of rabits in my neighborhood that have done thousands of dollars of damage to my gardens/yard. I'm okay with the coyotes as long as they are ok with me.

    October 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. kyphi

    Our cats and dogs have never been bothered by coyotes here in rural Missouri. We love to listen to the yips and yowls of a coyote pack at night.

    October 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
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