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Coexisting with coyotes (Canis latrans) in an urban environment

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Abstract

The global spread of urban development and concomitant reduction in wilderness areas can both pressure and entice wild animals to adapt to the urban environment. As wildlife moves into metropolitan areas, however, they come into contact with residents who have become increasingly disconnected from natural environments and have little to no experience in dealing with wild animals. While many large carnivores actively avoid urban areas, North America’s coyote (Canis latrans) has proved remarkably adept at utilizing the highly altered habitat of the modern city. Yet while the coyote’s behavioural adaptations to urban areas have been relatively well researched, fewer studies have focused on human-coyote interactions in cities. Given that human attitudes, fears, knowledge and resulting behaviours often underpin human-wildlife conflicts, the following study investigates and compares the human aspects of coyote conflict in two cities with large populations of both people and coyotes: Chicago and Los Angeles. Data were collected via email surveys sent to residents of Cook and Los Angeles Counties. The survey instrument included questions on residents’ opinions, fears, knowledge, personal experiences with urban coyotes and behaviours affecting them. The general goal of the study was to investigate the potential for human-coyote coexistence in urban environments. The following research revealed great variation in attitudes towards coyotes, with animal lovers being as much a part of the problem as those with a paralyzing fear of wildlife. Consequently, finding acceptable solutions may pose a significant challenge to urban wildlife managers and reconciliation ecologists.

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Notes

  1. While the definition of the terms ‘nature’ and ‘natural’ may be controversial, they are used colloquially in this paper to denote areas relatively unaffected by human activity.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth E. Elliot.

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Elliot, E.E., Vallance, S. & Molles, L.E. Coexisting with coyotes (Canis latrans) in an urban environment. Urban Ecosyst 19, 1335–1350 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-016-0544-2

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