David Drake, University of Wisconsin – Human and Coyote Co-Existence in Urban Areas

Have you heard the howl of a coyote nearby?

David Drake, professor and extension wildlife specialist in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explores human and coyote coexistence in urban areas.

David Drake is a Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His research and extension programs primarily focus on wildlife and wildlife damage management in human-dominated landscapes.  David also teaches an undergraduate course on wildlife damage management.  David received his Ph.D in Forestry from North Carolina State University, a M.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University, and a B.A degree in Biology from Macalester College.

Human and Coyote Co-Existence in Urban Areas

Due to their very adaptive and opportunistic nature, coyotes have expanded their range across nearly all of North America, including occupying most urban areas.  However, most people don’t realize that coyotes live amongst them.  Given the number of humans and coyotes that live alongside each other in cities, the vast majority of human-coyote encounters are benign.  This means neither party leaves the encounter having been harmed.  But, seeing a coyote in a city can elicit a range of emotions. Often people’s surprise turns to concern for the safety of their children and pets.  If you encounter a coyote, it is OK to observe the animal from a safe distance.  But then you should haze the animal, or scare the animal so that it moves away from you. 

Hazing takes many forms, but is most easily done by waving your arms in big circles as you yell at the coyote to “Go away”.  Other forms of hazing include blowing a whistle, shaking an aluminum can full of pebbles or pennies, or throwing objects likes sticks or stones near, but not at, the animal.  Hazing reinforces a fear of humans in coyotes, so that when a coyote sees a human, the animal moves away.  Another step to reduce negative human-coyote encounters is not leaving pet food or open trash containers on the landscape that will cause a coyote to repeatedly visit an area. 

You should also keep cats indoors and keep dogs, especially smaller breeds, on a leash when outside. This helps you keep your dog under control if a coyote approaches.  Neither humans nor coyotes are leaving urban areas, so it’s important that we as humans understand how to co-exist with our wild neighbors.


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