The Urban Wildlife We Don’t Want: Coyote Management Planning and Regulatory Control Measures
25 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2011
Date Written: June 11, 2011
Coyotes have been viewed as pests and a threat to livestock since American settlers first encountered them. But despite decades of hunting, poisoning, and trapping programs, coyotes have proliferated and expanded their range, both geographically and ecologically. While once confined primarily to the plains and prairies of the West and Southwest, coyotes now inhabit urban, suburban and rural habitats throughout Alaska and the lower 48 states, as well as much of Canada and Mexico. In rural areas where larger predators such as wolves have been more successfully eradicated, coyotes have taken their place as apex predators, and in developed areas their intelligence and adaptability has allowed them to create new ecological niches in the urban and suburban landscape.
Urban coyotes are secretive and mostly escape human notice. They play an important predator role in developed areas, culling populations of other nuisance animals like geese and rodents, and many people are happy to coexist with them. But they can also prey on house pets, and while coyote attacks on people are still far less common than dog bites, problems with aggressive coyotes are becoming more frequent in many areas. Public concern about coyotes has grown as well, fueled by unfamiliarity and negative media accounts, leading to increased calls for local governments to address the issue.
Designing effective coyote control programs requires local governments to understand and influence both coyote and human behavior, and it often involves cooperation with state and federal wildlife agencies, neighboring municipalities, and community stakeholders. Coyote management may be a daunting task for lawmakers that have no experience with predator control issues, but appropriate coyote policies will only become more important as their populations increase.
This working paper provides a review of existing wildlife laws affecting coyotes as well as the types of regulations and strategies now being used to manage coyotes in urban and suburban settings.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation