The truth about coyotes and what we still need to know
It seems every time a dog gets attacked by a coyote, the media are there to tell the woeful story. More often than not, these are short, sensationalized pieces that strike fear in suburbia. Other media take a little more time to get to know this phenomenon of the growing coyote population.
I talked to Stan Gehrt, a biologist and college professor who has conducted myriad studies on coyotes in the Chicago metropolitan area. He’s got plenty of data based on accurate scientific studies that debunk misconceptions suburbanites as well as hunters and other biologists believe about coyotes.
Coyotes have been part of Illinois’ landscape since the late 1800s – as forests were cleared, more open land became available and that’s the habitat these mammals favor. The grazing of cows also offered coyotes open spaces to roam. Wolves preyed on the coyotes, keeping coyote numbers in check. As wolves were removed from the state, coyote numbers grew – and because they were able to adapt to suburbia, as well as urban spaces, the numbers swelled. Keep in mind, though, that coyotes can legally be hunted as long as the land owner gives permission. Roughly 7,000 coyotes are killed by hunters annually in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
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