The Cook County, Illinois, Coyote Project



  Featured Coyote  



Big Mama

She was the first coyote captured on the project, on March 22, 2000, and has become the signature coyote of the project.  When she was originally captured, she was a young, 1-year-old coyote and was solitary.   She weighed 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 5 cities for the next 8 to 9 months, as she floated across the landscape looking for a territory. Eventually, she settled down with an uncollared male during early 2001, and started the Meacham Pack.  She has been an alpha female ever since, and we have been fortunate to follow her every year.  She is obviously very street smart, given that her territory covers many, many busy roads. 

One of 7 pups from Big Mama and Coyote 115's litter in 2004


I once watched her cross 8 lanes of traffic on I-290 when she was a yearling, and all of us have watched her and her mate cross roads regularly at night.  She was recaptured on April 12, 2004 (after months of trying on our parts) as a mature, pregnant female.  Again, she was in excellent health, weighing in at 37.5 lbs.  She is now a 9-year-old, one of the oldest coyotes in our study.






Coyote 115


We were not able to capture her first mate prior to his death (likely from a vehicle), but we were able to capture her mate, Coyote 115, on February 18, 2004 (thanks to Bill), at the peak of the mating season. 

Coyote 115 was in excellent condition at 40 lbs.  He has been with Big Mama constantly since that date.  They are similar to many married couples, where at times they are inseparable, and other times they take short breaks from each other, but they have defended the same territory together continuously since 115ís capture date (over 4 years).  Over that time, they have had at least 4 litters together, with both parents helping to raise the young. 



They live in a heavily-developed area within a few miles from OíHare International Airport.

Yellow dots are locations of Big Mama, and red dots are locations of her mate, #115.

Below are the home range boundaries of Big Mama and Coyote 115, plus their offspring born in 2006.  Each color represents a different coyote, all were radiotracked in 2007.  Click on the map for a larger view.





The Cook County, Illinois, Coyote Project

The Ohio State University