Tuesday, December 16, 2008

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.


Anonymous Tyler Allison said...

We have coyotes in our neighborhood. In fact we were warned by our neighbors not less than 2 hours after moving in, to watch our dog. My wife had one walk right next to her while she was out shoveling snow last year. I've seen them walk between our house and the neighbor. We have a creek in the back of the house that I think they may use be using as an extension of the preserve to our north. I've never seen them be threatening and I could never get within 20 yards of any that I've watched.

17/12/08 6:33 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Interesting. I am not surprised to hear that larger predators are roaming surrounding suburbs with occasional forays into the city proper. It is the sheer abundance of larger predators living right in our midst that has me so excited.
I think it is good news and hope most of our neighbors agree.

18/12/08 10:28 AM  
Blogger MrBrownThumb said...

I've never seen on in my area. They're probably scared off by the gang bangers ;0) But I've seen the ones on the news like the one that made it into that sandwich shop in the Loop.

What always surprises me are the rabbits though. Every time I see them I get a kick out of them.

22/12/08 12:05 AM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Hello there Mr Brown Thumb,Hope this weather doesn't have you gounded. We have lots of rabbits around,maybe rabbit is on the coyote holiday menu. Merry Christmas.

22/12/08 11:18 AM  
Blogger firefly said...

We adopted our fifth cat because either a fox or coyote popped out of the hedge next to our garage one night while the bf was out feeding a stray who had begun showing up regularly. The animal disappeared when he saw the human, and the cat came indoors that night.

I have been really surprised to see all the animals, predator and prey, who show up in our yard. I've never heard anything about it from the neighbors -- but I think they just aren't paying attention.

23/12/08 5:39 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Firefly, it is amazing the number of creatures still out there. Puttering about in a garden,quietly observing what results,that is when we start to see what shares our space even in urban areas.
May you have a good New Year and keep sharing your garden experience for another season.

26/12/08 10:00 AM  
Blogger Mike said...


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4/1/09 11:18 AM  
Blogger Wild Flora said...

Hi Gloria and thanks for this post. I first took an interest in coyotes after reading a book about them with the wonderful title of "God's Dog". Although I think it's a shame that humans have eliminated a lot of the native large predators, I agree completely that their function has often been taken over by coyotes and that these under-appreciated animals perform a valuable function. I also think that coyotes are often blamed for "crimes" committed by other predators, including pet dogs. Unfortunately I can't find the reference, but I recall reading about a study that found that sheep kills being blamed on coyotes were more often the work of packs of pet dogs left outside by their owners over night. Getting to actually see a coyote is a rare and thrilling experience, but you can listen for them at night (where I live, it is quite easy to tell the difference between the coyotes' "yip-yip-yip-yip" howl from ordinary dog barking). You can also look for their scat, which has a distinctive tapered end and is always full of animal fur.

11/1/09 8:21 AM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

I'm in the suburbs and we have them here. In fact there's a not of articles about them lately as if there are more than usual. But since moving here a few years ago, I see them at least a couple times crossing the street between homes, and one time in my front yard.

12/1/09 1:36 PM  
Blogger garden girl said...

Hi Gloria, last summer we had a coyote in our backyard around 5:00 a.m. I was glad I'd left our dog indoors. I'm sure he would have tried to chase the coyote.

A friend who also lives in the south suburbs lost her little Maltese to a coyote last winter. The coyote snatched him, leash and all as my friend's husband was outside with him. The coyote was hiding behind an evergreen, came out and grabbed the dog, who was only about 4 pounds, as they walked out the door. The coyote had obviously been paying attention and was waiting for them. They are so smart.

14/1/09 8:18 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Hello Gloria! Great blog you've got here. You should come join us at wildlifegardeners.org. Cheers!

16/1/09 9:38 PM  
Anonymous intelligence said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

26/2/09 8:51 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Hi everyone. Interesting coyote stories. Thank you for commenting. I have been trying to find out if anyone in our neighborhood has seen coyotes but so far no luck. Now that I am home more I'll get out and investigate.Spring can not be far.

3/3/09 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

22/11/09 5:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The author of pollinators-welcome.blogspot.com has written an excellent article. You have made your point and there is not much to argue about. It is like the following universal truth that you can not argue with: death kills, beware Thanks for the info.

24/1/10 8:56 PM  

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