Learning to Live With Coyotes in the City
Researchers from Utah State University in 2016 surveyed wildlife officials in 105 urban areas around the country and they found that 96 of the cities have coyotes in their midst. Conflicts between humans and coyotes are rising in large urban areas across the country, and particularly in the West. But those conflicts are not what you would expect. Some urban areas hold “contests” in which hunters are allowed to “clean out” an area of its coyotes, and others allow trapping and/or poisoning them. Wildlife experts say that none of these methods are effective in eliminating coyotes, which are territorial animals, and when one is eliminated the next one will move into the territory of the first.
For western states, what is happening in New Mexico typical:
- The state legislature is moving a bill that makes it a misdemeanor to organize a coyote-killing contest and a lesser misdemeanor to participate in one.
- According to the Albuquerque Journal, 20 to 30 coyote-killing derbies are typically organized across New Mexico every year, with participants using calling devices to lure coyotes into range.
- These contests often award prize money or new firearms for the most coyotes killed or the biggest coyote killed.
- The State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard issued an executive order last month that bars coyote-killing contests on 9 million acres of New Mexico state trust land, but of course it does not cover private land.
- Critics believe the N.M. bill will prevent them from protecting their pets and property, but according to the Urban Coyote Initiative, urban animal control officers have learned through a lot of experience that this is not only a lot harder to do than it sounds, but it does nothing to reduce the number of coyotes living in an area. In fact, it has the opposite effect.
Wildlife advocates are hoping to educate the public that they should not fear coyotes — they will not attack humans. Coyotes have a natural fear of humans. The worst thing to do, however, is to feed them because they will lose that fear and even become aggressive if they are being fed.
Why This Matters: Humans are more of a threat to coyotes than the other way around. The best thing to do is to leave them alone, and reduce their access to trash/food, which is one of the major causes of conflicts with humans. Cities are beginning to make a concerted effort to educate the public about what to do if a coyote moves into their neighborhood. Ironically, large urban areas are increasingly home to coyotes, since they are less likely to be killed or removed in cities than they are in many rural areas. So education in cities is more important than ever.
For a coyote chuckle, enjoy this video of the antics of Looney Tunes’ Wile E Coyote.