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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Coyotes and Humans: Can We Coexist?


Coyotes have expanded their range throughout much of North America, aided by the extirpation of wolves, alteration and transformation of habitat, and urban sprawl. Humanized landscapes have worked to the coyote’s advantage by offering an abundance of food, water, and shelter. Unfortunately, intentional and unintentional feeding of coyotes has also resulted in increased encounters and conflicts. How communities address such conflicts generates impassioned debate. Many state wildlife agencies and local municipalities lack the resources to effectively implement proactive strategies before encounters escalate to conflicts. Moreover, lack of agency coordination, combined with a largely uneducated populace, hinders effective conflict resolution. Consequently, responses to coyote conflicts are usually reactive and fail to address the root causes of most conflicts, i.e. a constant food source. Failure to address these root causes often leads to a vicious cycle of trapping and killing. Moreover, inconsistent and exaggerated reports of coyote attacks can lead to heightened public fears, which may limit the opportunity for establishing long-lasting proactive coexistence strategies. This paper provides an overview of coyote ecology in urbanized landscapes and considers several case studies of communities that have developed effective coyote coexistence programs.

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