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. However, unlike other urban wildlife, we are just starting to understand how coyotes are becoming successful in landscapes dominated by people and are wondering how they might adapt to an ever-changing human landscape. 

We are a non-profit research program based in Dundee, IL, and operate with support from numerous partners and collaborating scientists.

Our goal is to provide the best possible science in a non-biased academic-driven research atmosphere through our Urban Coyote Research Program, also referred to as the Cook County Coyote Project. This website provides excerpts from our research including coyote ecology information, tips for avoiding conflict, scientific papers, case studies of individual animals, and so much more. This program is not designed to advocate for or against coyotes, nor influence management decisions. The idea of carnivores in a city, or even in a suburban backyard, is a subject highly divided by matter of opinion. Regardless if you love coyotes, or hate them, they seem to be here to stay and we plan to be here to study just what happens. We welcome you to explore our website to learn about the research program and what it has revealed about coyotes.

Chicago city landscape, home to nearly 3 million people and wildlife of all species
coyote 571 in her suburban home range image
coyote 441 in her downtown Chicago home range image
coyotes ARE raising pups downtown
Former research associate Justin Brown, after just catching 434 for collaring

Coyote 434 is a good example of how human behaviors, such as feeding wildlife, can result in coyotes becoming a nuisance. 434 was captured on February 18, 2010, in a marsh surrounded by a subdivision and miles of urbanization. She was a young female, approximately 10 months old, and weighed 13.1 kg. Although this was the peak of the breeding season, she was not in breeding condition. A GPS collar was placed on coyote 434, which means that she was located by satellites on an intensive schedule (at times, this was every 10 minutes, other times every hour).