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ON THE LOOSE: URBAN COYOTES THRIVE IN NORTH AMERICAN CITIES

Posted by on Nov. 22, 2013 at 6:58 AM
  • 16 Replies


Stan Gerht holds a female coyote captured in the Chicago metro area. Photo courtesy of Stan Gehrt. [hi-res version available]

ON THE LOOSE: URBAN COYOTES THRIVE IN NORTH AMERICAN CITIES

COLUMBUS , Ohio – Even in the largest American cities, a historically maligned beast is thriving, despite scientists' belief that these mammals intently avoid urban human populations.

This animal's amazing ability to thrive in metropolitan areas has greatly surprised scientists, says Stanley Gehrt, an assistant professor of environmental and natural resources at Ohio State University. Gehrt is in the sixth year of a multi-year study of coyote behavior in urban Chicago.

Since the study began, Gehrt and his colleagues have found that urban coyote populations are much larger than expected; that they live longer than their rural cousins in these environments; and that they are more active at nighttime than coyotes living in rural areas.

Coyotes also do some good – they help control rapidly growing populations of Canada geese throughout North America .


“We couldn't find an area in Chicago where there weren't coyotes,” Gehrt said. “They've learned to exploit all parts of their landscape.”


And while his coyote research is concentrated in Chicago , the results likely apply to most major metropolitan areas in North America . Gehrt has even seen a pack of about a dozen on Ohio State 's campus in Columbus .

The study began in Chicago in 2000 when Gehrt was a research biologist for the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation in Dundee , Ill. In the 1990s the foundation was increasingly inundated with complaints about coyotes taking pets and reportedly stalking children.

The number of calls grew, and in the late 1990s the Cook County Animal Control agency asked Gehrt to gather information on coyote populations in metropolitan Chicago .

The study was only supposed to last for a year.

“Nine million people live in the greater Chicago area,” said Gehrt, who is also a wildlife extension specialist at Ohio State . “We didn't think very many coyotes could thrive in such a highly urbanized area. We also thought that the few animals that were causing problems were probably used to living around people.”

The problem with studying coyotes in general is that the animals are incredibly difficult to catch. They quickly learn how to avoid traps. But Gehrt and his colleagues distributed their traps widely throughout the greater Chicago area and successfully caught several animals. They put radio-tagged collars on the captured coyotes and then let them go.

The original estimates of the greater Chicago coyote population were woefully low. The researchers had expected to find a few small coyote packs here and there throughout the city, with total population numbers in the range of several dozen. But the animals were everywhere.

“We couldn't find an area in Chicago where there weren't coyotes,” Gehrt said. “They've learned to exploit all parts of their landscape.”

Since the beginning of the study, the researchers have caught and tagged more than 200 coyotes. They estimate that there may be somewhere between several hundred and a couple thousand coyotes living in Chicago .

Some of the animals live in city parks, while others live among apartment and commercial buildings and in industrial parks.

The funding agency, Cook County Animal Control and Conservation Medicine Coalition, renews the study every year because the researchers keep finding results that surprise them. This spring, Gehrt will publish the first round of papers from the last six years' worth of research.

The major findings include:

  • Coyotes help control Canada geese populations. It appears that coyotes are helping to curb the booming Canada goose population in urban areas by eating the eggs from the birds' nests.

Researchers found that, in Chicago , the annual population growth of Canada geese was reduced to an average of 1 to 2 percent per year, down from the 10 to 20 percent growth rates of a few years ago. Also, while coyotes can clean out several goose nests in one night, they don't actually eat all of the eggs. Rather, they usually carry the eggs away from the nest and bury them, saving the eggs until later, Gehrt said.

  • The prevalence of large packs. Coyotes prefer to hunt alone, but often form packs to defend territories. Gehrt estimates that roughly half of all urban coyotes live in territorial packs that consist of five to six adults and their pups that were born that year. These urban packs establish territories of about five to 10 square miles – a fraction of the area that a rural coyote pack would cover. Consequently, the population densities in the urban area are usually three to six times higher than rural populations.

Those urban coyotes that don't hunt in packs can cover ranges of 50 square miles or more, often in just one night. “The first solitary coyote we tracked covered five adjacent cities in a single night,” Gehrt said.

  • Urban coyotes survive far longer than their rural cousins. A coyote living in urban Chicago has a 60-percent chance of surviving for one year, while a rural coyote has a 30 percent chance of living for another year.
  • Most coyotes pose little threat to humans. The problems generally start when people feed coyotes, even if that feeding is unintentional.

“A coyote may eat the food that's left outside for a pet,” Gehrt said. “It's not uncommon to see a coyote pass through an urban or suburban neighborhood.

“But most coyotes aren't thrilled about being seen by people,” he continued. “Urban coyotes are more active at night than their rural counterparts, so humans don't see a lot of their activity. In many cases, coyotes are probably doing us favors that we don't realize – they eat a lot of rodents and other animals that people don't want around.”

The next phase of the study is already underway. Gehrt and his colleagues are conducting genetic study of coyotes' social system. The researchers want to know if members of a pack are closely related – having such information could help to further explain coyote behavior.

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


by on Nov. 22, 2013 at 6:58 AM
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survivorinohio
by René on Nov. 22, 2013 at 7:04 AM

Emeil Hawkins, 3-Year-Old Chicago Boy, Attacked By Coyote After Mistaking It For Dog (VIDEO HERE)

A 3-year-old boy is recovering after he was bit in the face by a coyote roaming in a city park on Chicago's West Side.

Family says Emeil Hawkins was bit Oct. 27 near Columbus Park after he and his mother mistook the animal for a German Shepherd. Thinking the coyote was a dog, Emeil tried to feed it before the animal bit him in the face, WGN reports.

"You can see how close it is to the neck, to the eye, to the mouth, to the nose," said Bryce Kyle, the boyfriend of Emeil's mother, describing the wounds. "It could have been a lot worse, but at the same time it was tragic. It's been horrible."

Kyle told ABC Chicago in addition to the coyote that bit Emeil, there were "several animals a little further down the alley."

Cook County Animal Control officials later reported four coyotes were captured in Columbus Park following the incident. The animals tested negative for rabies and were euthanized, department spokesman Frank Shuftan told CBS Chicago.

Emeil also tested negative for rabies following the attack. Cornell University Professor Paul Curtis, a leading coyote researcher, said coyote attacks on humans are extremely rare and that they usually only attack if they have rabies or are "very hungry."

Coyote sightings in and around the Chicago area have been on the rise in recent years.

Last November, a pair of skinny coyotes was seen roaming near Wrigley Field in the city's Lakeview neighborhood.

survivorinohio
by René on Nov. 22, 2013 at 7:08 AM


Dogs Killed in Coyote Attacks

Posted on: 10:57 pm, March 28, 2013, by , updated on: 10:59pm, March 28, 2013

NORTH CANTON, Ohio — In a split second, a peaceful Sunday morning turned tragic for Joan, Raymond and their 8-year-old poodle, a sweet little girl they rescued named Dezi

“I was taking Dezi out to go potty before I go to church,” explained Joan, who did not want her family’s last name used.

In the backyard of their North Canton home near State Street and Boston, a coyote came out of nowhere.

“And it swooped in and swooped out like something you’d see on television,” Joan said. “I was in my robe and slippers and gave chase, hollering, ‘Dezi! Dezi!’ thinking it would drop it.”

They chased the animals between the houses and across the street but lost sight of them in a field.  Joan and Raymond searched for hours but couldn’t find Dezi.

“We knew she was dead but it would’ve been a comfort if we could’ve found her body and taken care of her,” Joan said.

Joan was standing next to her home and Dezi was no more than 10 feet away from her in an area surrounded by homes, fences and other barriers, but still, the coyote was bold enough to run in and grab her.

“I was not surprised,” said Dr. Angela Gamber, a veterinarian.  “I’ve been hearing some things and there’s no predator, it just seems like these episodes are escalating and getting worse.”

Gamber is Dezi’s doctor and felt sick over her death, then the very next day another patient was taken by coyotes near Everhard Road.  It was a 17-year-old lab mix named Sydney.

“I’ve been seeing her since she was a pup at another veterinarian practice. They followed me here.  He’s a single guy and absolutely loves his dog,” Gamber said of Sydney’s owner.

Gamber said people need to be extra cautious and realize any pet is a potential target.  Dezi was under 10 pounds but Sydney weighed 30 pounds.

Joan and Raymond are also nervous for the children in their neighborhood.

Coyotes are supposed to shy away from people, but after their experience, they don’t want anyone to take any chances.

“Be vigilant.  Watch your children, watch your dogs,” Joan said.

nelopyma
by Bronze Member on Nov. 22, 2013 at 7:12 AM

This is going to happen more and more as cities/suburbia grow.  When we lived in Connecticut, a coyote put in an appearance while we were at the elementary school playground.  Scared the hell out of me.

mcginnisc
by Member on Nov. 22, 2013 at 7:17 AM

We have them in our subdivision here just south of Atlanta.. 

As far as the first story of the boy being bitten in the face...why was the mother not stopping that child from approaching a strange animal? Ok..they thought it was a Shepherd- that does not mean it is safe to go near it as there was obviously no owner present...I'm just shaking my head in disbelief over this one...

Claire


" I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 

survivorinohio
by René on Nov. 22, 2013 at 7:40 AM
Quoting nelopyma:

This is going to happen more and more as cities/suburbia grow.  When we lived in Connecticut, a coyote put in an appearance while we were at the elementary school playground.  Scared the hell out of me.

It would have scared me too.

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


momtoscott
by Platinum Member on Nov. 22, 2013 at 8:08 AM

We have coyotes in my Mass. suburb, but we do border on a large nature preserve.  

dustinsmom1
by JENN on Nov. 22, 2013 at 8:27 AM

 More often then not, coyotes will avoid contact w people at all costs. People pushing the animal (any wild animal) into a corner will be bitten or worse.

Why the hell would that dumb ass woman approach a strang "dog" w her you child. what an idiot.

dawnie1
by #1 Raider fan on Nov. 22, 2013 at 11:30 AM

They are starting to cause problems here in south east FL. They can scale fences if they feel the need. I hate it but I will shoot one if it gets in my back yard and threatens me and mine. The problem is as always with this kind of thing, there is no natural predator to maintain balance.

lga1965
by on Nov. 22, 2013 at 11:48 AM
They're in Minnesota too. My daughter and her hubby moved into a new home on a pond and they were told to not allow their dog outside because coyotes were killing small dogs. Nice.
And duck hunters shoot toward their house,hit it once. They start shooting at sunrise and scare their three year old. Great they're wondering why they weren't told these things before they bought their house. Sucks.
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EireLass
by Ruby Member on Nov. 22, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Bang bang.....
We have a loaded gun close to the door in the event they come in the yard.
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