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
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.