Study: 2,000 Wild Coyotes Live in ... Chicago

By Patrick Burke | October 8, 2012 | 11:44 AM EDT

Coyotes increasingly are migrating to urban areas, researchers says. (AP Photo)

( – An Ohio State University study finds there are approximately 2,000 coyotes living in the Chicago metropolitan area, some living just outside O’Hare International Airport.

Stan Gehrt, a wildlife ecologist and associate professor at Ohio State who has led coyote tracking efforts in Chicago, said he “couldn’t find an area in Chicago where there weren’t coyotes.”

He also said the estimate of 2,000 coyotes in the Chicago area is on the conservative side, and there could be many more.

And where coyotes go, larger beasts may follow: “And the larger carnivores -- the bears, the mountain lions and the wolves -- are now making their way towards, in many cases, the outskirts of cities and are beginning to test the waters as well. So coyotes again are breaking the ground, and we’ll see what happens as these larger animals start to move in,” he said.

Gehrt said coyotes gravitate to green spaces such as golf courses, urban parks and cemeteries.

Larger than foxes, coyotes are the largest carnivorous mammals to successfully establish a presence in urban areas.

Gehrt’s research found that urban coyotes are overwhelmingly monogamous. In all 236 of the animals he tracked, none had multiple partners or abandoned a mate while the other was still alive.

Gehrt and his research team have tracked approximately 680 coyotes since 2000.

While the presence of coyotes in high population areas may seem unsettling, they are not inclined to attack humans, especially when confronted with yelling or a rock throwing.

There have been two documented coyote-related fatalities since 1981, one of which took place in an urban area.

Gehrt says coyote eradication programs are doomed to fail, given the animals’ adaptability as well as their increasing numbers in places such as Chicago:

“The coyote historically and even up to recent history was not a member of the city, so we’re not used to seeing them near people because we think of them as a rural or western type species or a wilderness type species. So they clearly moved into the cities. It wasn’t a matter of us encroaching on them, they came in,” Gehrt told

“That’s going to put the burden back on us: Are we going to be able to adjust to them living with us or are we not going to be able to coexist?”

He called coyotes “a true test (of) our tolerance for these kinds of animals.”