Monday, December 13, 2010

Urban Coyotes

http://www.amazon.com/Photographic-Field-Butterflies-Kansas-Region/dp/1933466863We have made several postings about deer, turkeys etc. that are getting used to living in close proximity to humans.  It makes sense that coyotes would start to show up, but in  downtown Chicago?  Marlyss Simmons, our Secretary-for-Life, sent me this story.

A great story reported by NPR.org tells of 60 urban coyotes (not cowboys) which have been radio collared to track their habits in an urban environment.  They are living on rats and voles as well as cooperating with the "the largest urban study of coyotes in the world."  The first one was named "Big Mama" and with an unknown mate she has had 45 pups and now they are grown and having pups of their own.

There are occasional reports of pets attacked by coyote in places such as Chicago, Grapevine Texas and Palm Beach Florida.  These are usually small dogs or cats and are certainly incidental to their usual urban diet of rats, rabbits and voles.  Occasionally there will be a curious interaction with humans.  A coyote in downtown Chicago walked calmly into a Quizno's sandwich shop and climbed into a refrigerated case.  It nestled quietly in among the fruit juice.  Either a vegetarian or just wanting to cool off. 
Actually, seeing a coyote in the wild is somewhat uncommon.  They are stealthy, shy, and usually avoid humans and dogs.  I have seen a coyote twice on Bull Creek in 15 years although we hear them commonly.
As they become accustomed to humans we can expect them to be bolder.  There was a time in the past when the Missouri Department of Conservation would take live animals to the fair for demonstration.  A story on the MDC blog describes an employee who took one of these demonstration coyotes home and released it in the wild, only to see it return and try to open the doorknob as it had seen humans do while it was in captivity.
The complete story of the Chicago coyote study with pictures, maps of their travel and a video is at the NPR site above.

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