With the possible exception of the bobcat, North American coyotes are the most successful carnivore species on the continent.
Both of them are generalists, eating whatever is easiest to catch and most abundant at the time. They are also highly adaptable to changing conditions.
Once the clever coyotes equated cities with abundant food lying around for the taking, they began to spend more time at their city addresses. Many major cities now have Urban Coyote projects, working to understand these rapidly adapting carnivores, and educate the public.
Our local paper recently had a very long article about our own city-dwelling carnivores, with some great advice from local researchers at the University of Calgary.
- Coyotes are afraid of humans and largely keep out of their way. A review of all print media reports from 1998-2010 revealed an average of three coyote ‘events’ – bites or scratches – that injured a person. This compares to about half a million domestic dog bites annually.
- They are living in green spaces and then foray around into neighborhoods. If they find an attractant like garbage spilling out of bins, dog food, sloppy compost bins, birdseed or even fruit lying on the ground, they are liable to return.
- Sometimes attractants are people who are feeding the coyotes. These animals can lose their natural fear of humans and become more adventurous. In every case in Canada where someone has been injured by a coyote, the animal was used to food being provided by humans.
- It is a myth that coyotes come and lure dogs away. The evidence says that dogs are chasing coyotes and getting into fights, versus coyotes being the aggressors. Big dogs can survive the attack, but smaller ones do not.
As dog owners, we have come into contact with coyotes many times. We have bird feeders in the yard that attract rabbits to the spilled feed, and naturally coyotes follow the rabbits. We’ve even had a coyote in our fenced back yard, and as we have no alley, we still have no idea how he got in there. None of these encounters led to problems because we understand coyote behavior, and remained calm.
Coyotes are wild animals, and if you share your habitat with them, educate yourself about these canids. Think of coyotes as a symbol of our North American heritage. They’ve survived since the ice ages, and should be admired for their endurance not considered a pest on your landscape. After all, they were here first so who is the interloper?
On the Loose – Urban coyotes thrive in North American Cities
Learning to Live With Urban Coyotes