Urban Coyote or Dream Spirit?
Stan Gerht holds a female coyote captured in the Chicago metro area
During the night about 2 a.m. I awoke and glanced out the bedroom window. Trotting quickly past and disappearing into an alley was what appeared to be a coyote. I ran to the back door and out to the gate but the animal was gone. I know what a coyote looks like. The ears ,face,tail,that walk, it had to be but never would I have imagined to see this outside my front door.
The ground was clear of snow after a warm day so no tracks to capture an image . Was this a dream brought on by all the recent reading of Hillerman reservation mystery's? How does one go about checking local sightings? Should this be mentioned to anyone? So many react badly to this kind of information.
Google has an answer to all questions. Of course a university has an urban coyote study and of course it is of the Chicago area. I was very surprised by the findings.
Apparently coyotes are very common in urban areas with Chicago being no exception.
"It's not uncommon to see a coyote pass through an urban or suburban neighborhood."
“We couldn't find an area in Chicago where there weren't coyotes,” Gehrt said.
Urban coyotes are more active at night and so seldom seen by people. They live longer lives in urban areas than rural counterparts and do a real service by eating pests like rodents and canadian geese eggs.
So it looks like I may have seen a real coyote and not some mythical native american appariton.
STAN GEHRT research news archives
Seed Magazine Wily Coyote moves to windy city
Wild About Pets pictures of Chicago coyotes
An excellent radio interview with Stan Gehrt about coyotes in urban areas to which that you can listen, as well as great pictures.
Chicago Wilderness Magazine predator comeback
the coyote baby boom of the late 1990s in Cook County provoked the largest study of urban coyotes to date in the world. Authored by Gehrt and a team working with Max McGraw, around 200 radio-collared coyotes were tracked for six years. Results have suggested that as many as 2,000 coyotes may be making a good living in the county and that their presence as keystone predator is far more beneficial than dangerous. Only five of the collared coyotes have been removed as nuisances, and there have been no reports of coyotes biting humans in Cook County. (Compare that to 3,000 dog bites reported most years.) The coyotes’ main diet of voles and other small mammal pests has had a significant effect on rodent control, and, to some extent, on the overpopulation of white-tailed deer. They have even been credited with checking the growth of Canada goose flocks that burgeoned in the 1980s. A recent videotape study found coyotes raiding goose nests for eggs.
“They’re an important part of the ecosystem,” says Glowacki, “and we definitely don’t want them gone.”
But what about cougars? How much of that historic territory can we give back to a predator with a record, however rare, of attacking human beings? As a matter of public safety, won’t we really be forced to shoot or relocate them all?
“That’s a legitimate question,” says Gehrt. “The cold, hard truth is that it’s not easy to hunt down or trap mountain lions. In fact, it’s pretty hard. And they’re serving a role in an ecosystem that has been out of whack in and around the cities for a long time. They can have an effect on the overabundance of white-tailed deer, which are a major problem for property damage and even death. There are many, many more people killed in auto collisions with deer than will ever be killed by cougars. Still, the only time we hear about the large predators is when they’re in conflict with people, which means that any suggestion for management programs will have to deal with public fear.