Coyotes are here to stay in North American cities – here's how to appreciate them from a distance

Coyotes have become practically ubiquitous across the lower 48 United States, and they’re increasingly turning up in cities. The draws are abundant food and green space in urban areas.

At first these appearances were novelties, like the hot summer day in 2007 when a coyote wandered into a Chicago Quiznos sub shop and jumped into the beverage cooler. Within a few years, however, coyote sightings became common in the Bronx and Manhattan. In 2021 a coyote strolled into a Los Angeles Catholic school classroom. They’re also appearing in Canadian cities.

People often fear for their own safety, or for their children or pets, when they learn about coyotes in their neighborhoods. But as an interdisciplinary team studying how people and coyotes interact in urban areas, we know that peaceful coexistence is possible – and that these creatures actually bring some benefits to cities.

Adaptable animals

Coyotes can thrive in urban environments because they are incredibly adaptable. As omnivores, coyotes can change their diets depending on the type of food that’s available.

In rural areas coyotes may feed on bird eggs, rabbits, deer and a wide range of nonanimal matter, like plants and fruits. In urban environments they’ll supplement their natural diet with human-provided food sources, such as outdoor pet feeders and garbage cans.

Coyotes prefer to live in packs, and usually do so in rural areas. In urban areas, coyotes live in packs as well, although it may not seem that way because they are often seen individually rather than as a group.

Solitary coyotes not associated with a pack are somewhat common but tend to be transitory animals looking to join a pack or establish a new one in an unoccupied territory. These solitary coyotes can roam many miles per day, which enables them to disperse to new cities in search of food.

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