The Existence and Expansion of Urban Coyotes in Cook County
Coyotes can be found in every major ecosystem in North American regardless if the area is rural, urban, scarcely populated or densely populated. Urban coyotes or those coyotes living in or near urban areas have a different lifestyle compared to coyotes living in a rural area. Unlike most animals, coyotes do not need a large cohesive green area, instead urban coyotes have adaptive and can live in scattered green areas like parks, golf courses or cemeteries.
Dens and Litters
Despite living in urban areas it’s unlikely that individuals will accidentally stumble onto a coyote’s den. Typically, dens are well hidden, heavily camouflaged by shrubbery with multiple entrances.
Coyotes are highly social and typically live in family groups. Despite this, it’s not uncommon to see a single coyote. Young coyotes may split from their pack to search for a new territory or mate. Coyotes also typically hunt alone or in pairs. A family group can consist of an alpha male and female, offspring from previous seasons, and a current litter. Family groups may “adopt” a lone coyote if the territory can support an additional animal.
Coyotes are monogamous, and research suggests that they are faithful to their mate. The litter size a female has is dependent on food and available resources for those pups. Urban coyotes have surprisingly large litters because of the abundant supply of rodents, reptiles, fruit, and vegetables in a small space.
Coyotes are omnivores and typical eat rodents, fruits, and scavenged food. A small portion of urban coyotes’ diet is human garbage and feral cats. Studies have shown that coyotes help to manage rodent and Canadian geese populations in urban areas.
Human Interactions with Coyotes
It’s not uncommon to see coyotes out in daylight; however, urban coyotes’ behavior has shifted towards being more active at dusk and dawn to avoid contact with humans.
To minimize contact with coyotes, do not feed them. Don’t leave pet food out. Clean up seeds under bird feeders. Clean out gardens or dropped fruit from trees. If individuals feed coyotes, they will associate humans with food and will become less wary of human interactions. A coyote that isn’t wary of humans will enter yards and approach homes.
Coyote attacks on humans are rare. Discourage a coyote from approaching by:
- Making yourself big and loud.
- Waving your arms, clapping your hands, throwing things.
- Shouting with a loud authoritative voice.
Do not turn around or run. Pick up small children or pets.
Coyotes can on occasion target pets for food or as competition for territory. In the case of small children put yourself between the coyote and child.
To deter a coyote from attacking a pet:
- Turn on outside lights when pets are outside.
- Maintain fencing.
- Remove food sources, including dog food.
Coyotes are one of the few wild animals that have adapted to living in urban environments. By remembering that coyotes are wild animals and should be treated as wild animals and not fed, humans and coyotes can continue to coexist in an urban environment.