In 2000, we initiated a comprehensive ecological
study of coyotes in the Chicago
metropolitan area, specifically
Illinois, to address shortcomings
in urban coyote ecology and management.
The Urban Coyote Project is currently still
STUDY AREA: Cook County and the
metropolitan area spans all or parts of 6 counties
in northeastern Illinois (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will),
and extends into parts of
Wisconsin and Indiana.
The 6 counties include greater than 260 municipalities and a cumulative human
population exceeding 9 million, making this one of
the most heavily urbanized areas in
General land cover in 1997 for this
area was estimated to be 33% agriculture, 30% urban,
16% natural areas, and 21% unassociated vegetation.
Natural areas in the
metropolitan area consisted of savannas, woodlands,
grasslands and wetlands.
These areas have become fragmented, first by
agriculture in the 1800s, and more recently through
An important feature of the
metropolitan landscape is the patchwork of habitat
fragments protected from development, most of which
are county forest preserves.
In Cook County, forest preserves make up 11% of the
land area, providing an important component of the
landscape mosaic in addition to the greater than 5 million human
inhabitants in that county.
Our fieldwork is largely focused in the
northwestern portion of the metropolitan area,
including O’Hare International Airport.
METHODS: Capture & Collaring
As part of this
research, we capture coyotes and radio-collar them
in order to identify and monitor their home ranges,
i.e. the area where a coyote lives and travels
Through 2008, we have
captured over 300 coyotes and radio-collared over
250 so far, making this the largest urban study of
coyotes in the world.
Above is a coyote that has just been fitted with
a radio-collar and ear tags.
We have tracked the
coyotes day and night, locating collared coyotes
more than 40,000 times over 11 years.
This allows us to peek into the hidden lives
of urban coyotes.
We obtain radiolocations
for coyotes using triangulation with a truck-
mounted antenna or by visual observations.
We locate coyotes once during the day,
typically 2 or 3 times per week, and at night during
tracking shifts in which we focus on a group of
coyotes and obtain sequential locations at 60- to
120-min intervals for 5-6 hours during the night.
This means that our staff is always working-
night and day to track coyotes!
APPLICATION: How we use the results from our study
We use results from this unique project to answer
common questions regarding coyotes in urban areas.
Many aspects of coyote ecology have direct
Although our study was focused on
Cook County, Illinois, we believe the things we have learned about
coyotes and people living together are indicative of
many metropolitan areas in the Midwest and eastern
to learn more about application of our results.
Checking the teeth of the
captured coyotes aided in determining both the
health and age of coyotes.
The Cook County Coyote Project, largely funded by the
Cook County Animal and Rabies Control Agency, is a
unique study comprised of collaborations between the
Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, the Forest Preserve
District of Cook County, the Brookfield Zoo, and the
Zoological Pathology Program from the