The Cook County, Illinois, Coyote Project






INDIRECT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES: Education & Human Behavior Modification

Management programs for urban coyotes should begin with public education and untangling facts from myths.

People should become aware of coyote signs and understand the differences between true threats and coexistence.

It is important to stress that our relationship with coyotes is directly affected by our behavior — coyotes react to us, and we can foster mutual respect or a lack of respect through cues we send to coyotes.

Some people are enamored with coyotes. They like seeing them near their yards and attempt to entice them by baiting them, or they want to try to “tame” them. Intentional feeding, such as this, should be prohibited, otherwise management solutions will be only temporary at best. People should be discouraged from inadvertent feeding where coyotes are present. This includes leaving pet food outside at night and maintaining large bird feeders that attract multiple species of wildlife.



Lethal Removal:  There are instances where coyote habituation is so severe that the coyotes can be considered an immediate threat to people, especially children and pets. This is when removal is often warranted.

Lethal removal is accomplished either through trapping/euthanasia or shooting. Coyotes are difficult to trap or shoot, and these actions should be undertaken by professionals, especially in urban areas.  Removal efforts should observe state and municipal codes.

Fortunately, because of habituation, nuisance coyotes are often easier to capture than non-habituated individuals. Removal programs designed to target specific nuisance coyotes will be more successful than broad removal programs that have a goal of removing a complete population of coyotes. It is difficult to capture all coyotes residing in an area, and as coyotes are removed, they are replaced by solitary ones.

Removal, especially lethal removal, is often controversial within communities. This is especially true when the perceived threat by coyotes is somewhat ambiguous to residents. Removal programs can also be expensive, either for residents or municipalities, and traps can occasionally capture pets. For these reasons, as well as ethical reasons, coyote removal is best employed only after education has been attempted or if there is an immediate, and obvious, threat to human safety.


Relocation:  One option often used as a compromise is to remove coyotes with trapping and then relocate them to a distant site.

Although the primary objectives of the Cook County Coyote Project did not involve relocating coyotes, we did monitor 12 relocated nuisance (or rehabilitated) coyotes from the city of Chicago to document their movements and fates. We found that no relocated coyotes remained at their release site despite being located in favorable coyote habitat (usually they were gone within 48 hours or less), and each of them traveled in the general direction of their origin. No coyotes made successful returns, and many were killed by cars or hunters as they left the release site.

Relocation rarely is effective for any species and particularly so for coyotes. However, many removal programs still relocate coyotes with the understanding that it will likely result in the death of that individual because relocation is more palatable to the general public than euthanasia.


The Future of Coyote Management 

A major finding from our research is the extent to which coyotes and people are living together; we captured more coyotes and observed more use of developed areas by coyotes than we expected.


People are often unknowingly in close contact with coyotes each day, and in the vast majority of cases, the coyotes are still serving as ghosts of the cities, much as they did on the plains.

But coyotes are watching and learning from us; we influence their behavior, and it will be our actions that determine what the future holds for our new neighbors





The Cook County, Illinois, Coyote Project

The Ohio State University