Coexist with Coyotes
Coyotes have been moving into cities such as Atlanta and adapting to different landscapes for at least the last century. While this can create challenges for residents, coyotes also provide important benefits for the health of our ecosystems and management of rodent populations. Learning to coexist with coyotes will provide a safe space for you, your animals and the coyotes to live in peace.
Coyotes originated in the plains and started making their way into the state of Georgia in the 1970s. Now, you can find coyotes throughout the state. This happened because humans hunted red wolves, coyotes’ only true competitor, to extinction in the state. Coyotes are known to be extremely adaptable, making it easy for them to live in many different habitats, including cities. The increasing coyote population in urban landscapes has caused humans and coyotes to encounter each other more often. These encounters can lead to property damage, put pets in danger, and, in rare cases, result in attacks on livestock.
Coyotes are opportunistic omnivores, which means they will basically eat anything! This includes dead animals they come across, as well as foraged seeds and fruit. How coyotes eat affects the species they live alongside in their habitats, such as foxes, bobcats, birds and amphibians. Their diet even shapes the habitat they live in as they affect the vegetation due to their specific responses to changes in foliage, landscapes, and environmental corridors. They also provide important health management benefits to our ecosystems by managing rodent populations, cleaning up waste, and acting as an indicator for when the ecosystem health is shifting.
To help address human-coyote conflict, Zoo Atlanta works with researchers in the Atlanta area and around the state of Georgia to study coyotes. This includes the use of trap cameras and population surveys. The Zoo has supported projects by researchers from Berry College, Emory University, Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, and the University of Georgia. We also provide educational resources that can be easily accessible to the public.
You can help coyotes live in harmony with people, too! While there are many direct management strategies that different organizations utilize to coexist with coyotes, it is most important for you as a citizen to understand the indirect ways you can make an impact. Five easy ways to master coexisting with coyotes are to:
- Limit resources available to coyotes. Make sure your trash cans are inaccessible to them, don’t leave pet food or waste outside, clean grills, and be sure that livestock are properly enclosed.
- Be a responsible pet owner. One of the biggest reasons city residents are wary of coyotes is because they can injure or kill their pets. Responsible pet owners know the whereabouts of their companion animals, properly dispose of their waste, and consult their veterinarian with any concerns.
- Keep your neighborhood clean. This may include picking up trash regularly and properly disposing of any roadkill.
- Do not feed wildlife. First and foremost, it is important that you do not feed any coyote you may encounter. Coyotes are intelligent animals and quickly become accustomed to new stimuli such as food that humans provide. This will cause one coyote to bring more, increasing the tension between your community and the species. To reiterate, you should not feed coyotes or any wildlife you encounter.
- Make coyotes uncomfortable. Remember that coyotes are quick learners, so if they learn to be afraid of your property, they will stay away from it. If you observe coyotes close to your house, get loud, spray them with water, and make them feel uncomfortable.
(photo: Dr. Larry Wilson)
Where can you go to learn more about this issue and/or help?
Atlanta Coyote Project. (2020) Retrieved from: https://atlantacoyoteproject.org/2017/02/georgia-coyote-challenge/
Atlanta Coyote Project. (2020). Human-Coyote Interactions. Retrieved from: https://atlantacoyoteproject.org/human-coyote-interactions/
Brewster, R.K., Henke, S. E., Turner, B.L., Tomecek, J.M., & Ortega-s, A. (2019). Cost-Benefit Analysis of Coyote Removal as a Managment Option in Texas Cattle Ranching. Human-Wildlife Interactions. 13(3): 400-422.
Ellington, E.H., Munts, E.M., & Gehrt, S.D. (2020) Seasonal and daily shifts in behavior and resource selection: how a carnivore navigates costly landscapes. Ocelogia. 194, 87-100.
Etheredge, C. (2013) Ecology and Impacts of Coyote (Canis Latrans) in the Southeastern United States. Clemson University Tiger Prints: All Dissertations.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources. (2020). Living with Coyotes. Retrieved from: https://georgiawildlife.com/sites/default/files/wrd/pdf/uwp/UWP%20Coyote%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
Gompper, M.E. (2002). The Ecology of northeast Coyotes: Current Knowledge and Priorities for Future Research. Wildlife Conservation Society. 17
Kilgo, J.C., Shaw, C.E., Uokocvich, M., Conroy, M.J., & Ruth, C. (2017). Reproductive Characteristics of a Coyote Population Before and During Exploitation. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 81(8): 1386-1393.
Larson, R.N., Brown, J.L., Karels, T., & Riley, S.P.D. (2020). Effects of Urbanization on Resource use and Individual Specialization in Coyote (Canis latrans) in Southern California. Plos One. 15(2).
Lehner, P.N. (1976). Coyote Behavior: Implications for Management. Wiley. 4(3): 120-126.
Mowry, C.B. and Wilson, L.A. (2019). Species Richness Within an Urban Coyote (Canis latrans) Territory in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Urban Naturalist. 27, 1-17.
Parsons, A. (2019). Urbanization focuses carnivore activity in remaining natural habitats, increasing species interactions.
The Humane Society of the United States. “A Template Coyote Management and Coexistence Plan.” Retrieved From: https://ba7.dd2.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Humane-Society-Coyote-Management-Plan.pdf
United States Department of Agriculture. (2017). Death Loss in U.S. Cattle and Calves Due to Predator and Nonpredator Causes, 2015. Retrieved From: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/general/downloads/cattle_calves_deathloss_2015.pdf
Young, J.K., Draper, J., and Breck, S. (2019). Mind the Gap: Experimental Test to Improve Efficacy of Fladry for Nonlethal Management of Coyotes. Wildlife Society. 43(2): 265-271
Gorilla Care Team
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