Urban Coyote Research Program

Chicago, Illinois

Our Collaboration:

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.


Coming soon.

Continuing Work: 

We want to continue our work with Dr. Gehrt in Chicago after our National Geographic grant is completed. Our ongoing work includes the following goals and needs: Not only will we continue , but we also will explore through photojournalism some topics that fascinate us, including:

  • Continue to document the Urban Coyote Research Project’s field work, including tracking, collaring, lab analysis of coyote samples, addressing public concerns and other research efforts 
  • Funding to create a photojournalism photo essay or short documentary about the parallels between coyote territory lines and gang territory lines, exploring how these marginalized canids mirror marginalized people
  • Funding for field work to continue a photographic exploration of individual urban coyote personalities and behaviors, and how they are shaped or influenced by their territory (dense urban versus suburban versus park preserve, and so on)
  • Funding to create a photo essay or short documentary film exploring Chicago’s level of tolerance compare to other similarly sized cities, and what might be drivers behind varying attitudes

If you’d like to support our work, please make a tax-deductible donation to our project. 

Donate to Urban Coyote Initiative

Explore Images: 

More images will be added soon from our field work from this grant, including adorable images of 1-week-old coyote pups!


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