Coyotes have been in the news recently. For fifty years this past September, Wily Coyote has been entertaining kids of all ages as he schemes to catch the Roadrunner.
Increasing populations of coyotes in some Denver suburbs have citizens concerned for the safety of their children and pets. A coyote snatched Jessica Simpson’s dog. Then just a few weeks ago the Fargo Forum ran an article about increasing coyote sightings in eastern North Dakota.
Wiley Coyote might not get the Roadrunner on television, but in real life coyotes seem to be pretty successful at staying safe and getting a meal. The vast majority of their diet is composed of small mammals such as mice, ground squirrels, and rabbits. They can also take down deer and sheep, particularly when hunting in packs. Based on some of these recent news accounts, however, coyotes are finding something to eat in some rather untraditional areas.
Most people think of coyotes as residents of the open range where the human population is sparse. However, just as some animals can’t adapt to the presence of humans; other animals seem to do quite well and may actually thrive around humans, and coyotes are one of them. There probably aren’t many of us in the Prairie Public listening area that do not have some coyotes nearby.
Coyotes have been expanding their range into such places as suburban environments while being largely unnoticed, and are apparently finding enough food to thrive. Unfortunately for some suburbanites, they have also learned to dine on pet food placed outside homes, as well as the occasional pet. For the most part, however, we probably have little to fear of coyotes.
Coyotes have been observed in suburban Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and New York City, as well as other urban areas. Some of you may remember the coyote chase New York authorities put on “Hal” a few years ago in Central Park. Footage of the chase was shown on most major news programs.
The next time you hear or see a coyote, give some thought to the success of this species. Humans are rather hostile to coyotes, but they are still around, and in fact seem to be thriving, in some cases in our own backyards.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Dakota College at Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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