The Cook County Coyote Project is the longest running urban coyote study in the nation. Also known as the Urban Coyote Research Program, the study is headed up by Dr. Stanley Gehrt, who has worked since 2000 to understand urban coyote ecology and management strategies. If you’ve ever run across a news story about Chicago’s urban coyotes, you’ve probably heard Dr. Gehrt’s name mentioned.
We were awarded a National Geographic Expeditions Council grant in 2016 to work alongside Dr. Gehrt on a two-pronged study. We are helping him explore the personality and boldness of urban coyotes, and we’re doing some innovative camera trapping tests along the way.
The study looks at individuality using both genetics and behavioral observation. By placing novel objects within the home range of radio-collared coyotes and recording their reactions on camera, we’ll get insight into just how bold a coyote is when facing something new. The results will be added to what the team knows about each coyote, including their movement patterns, food habits and so on to develop an overall personality profile for each coyote.
The goal is to determine if there is a link between these behaviors and genetic markers associated with similar behaviors. This exploration into the personality and genetic linkages within urban coyotes is the first of its kind.
Providing editorial-quality images of urban coyotes will not only illuminate nuances of behavior, but also create compelling photographs that spark the curiosity of the public.