Project Overview: Ghosts of the city

Originally known as ghosts of the plains, coyotes have now become ghosts of the cities, occasionally heard but less often seen. With the exception of a few individuals, coyotes have largely learned to avoid us. Though a relatively recent phenomenon, coyotes are the top carnivores in an increasing number of metropolitan areas across North America. This includes one of the largest urban centers in the Midwest — the Chicago metropolitan region.

Have there been coyote bites or attacks on humans in the Chicago area?

No, there has not been a single coyote bite or attack reported on humans in northeastern Illinois. Recent media reports of coyote bites (a 49 year old man in Aurora and a 3 year old child in Columbus Park) were later proven instead to have been the result of domestic dogs. Domestic dog bites are far more common than bites by wild animals.

Avoid coyote conflicts

Do not feed coyotes

Confrontations with urban coyotes sometimes occur but can often be avoided. Here are a few simple guidelines to reduce conflicts:

  1. Do not feed coyotes
  2. Don't let pets run loose or be unattended
  3. Don't run from a coyote
Coyote 1

Coyote 1 was the first coyote captured on the project, on March 22, 2000, and has become the signature coyote of our research. When she was originally captured, she was just a year old and solitary. She weighed 13 kg (about 29 lbs), and was in excellent health, if not a little on the small side. In coyote years, she was a teenager. We tracked her movements over portions of five cities for the next nine months, as she floated across the landscape looking for a territory.