by Jaymi Heimbuch
Urban coyotes can create territories out of a patchwork of parks and green spaces
While many urban coyotes make their homes in large parks or forest preserves, this isn’t the case in all situations. Urban coyotes don’t need one cohesive piece of green space like a single park or a single golf course to call home. They manage to make due with surprisingly small patches of hunt-able land woven together as a whole territory.
Coyotes can thrive in a small territory if there is enough food and shelter, but if there isn’t — such as in sections of a city with only a handful of small parks, soccer fields, green spaces and the like — then they will expand the size of their territory to include enough places to hunt for food to sustain themselves. The size of an urban coyote’s range is dependent on the abundance of food and can be anywhere from two square miles to ten square miles or more. Urban coyotes tend to have smaller territory sizes than rural coyotes because there is so much more food packed into smaller areas, even if that area has only a few scattered parks.
Studies have shown that coyotes much prefer forested areas and large parks where they can steer clear of humans, and they try to avoid residential areas. But when that’s not available, they still figure out how to make due. In a large-scale study of urban coyotes by the Urban Coyote Research Program, it was discovered that “29 percent of collared coyotes have home ranges composed of less than 10 percent of natural land and 8 percent having no measurable patches of natural land within their home ranges.”
There is still a lot to learn about how coyotes use urban landscapes, which inevitably varies depending on the building density of different cities, the quality of green spaces, and many other factors. But one thing is for sure: the more researchers learn about urban coyote territories, the more it becomes apparent that coyotes make use of the most surprising places, even those that at first glance seem like an ecological desert.