Saturday, January 10, 2015

Coyote 441

Urban ecologists have been studying Chicago's more than 2,000 coyotes for years, and you can now read a great deal about these studies online:
Coyote 441 is one of the most successful urban coyotes we have observed. This female was captured near the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago on March 10th, 2010. At the time of capture, she was a subadult in excellent condition, weighing 11 kg. A GPS collar was placed on her and we recorded her locations until November 2010 when her collar blew off (these collars are programmed to remotely fall off at a specified time). Thanks to continuous camera surveys by Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Institute, she still shows up on cameras (because of her ear tags, we can continue to identify her) and several Chicago residents have also caught sight of her on the streets of downtown. One of our researchers even happened to catch a glimpse of her while enjoying an evening downtown; he looked out the restaurant at the exact moment 441 was trotting by the window. The last sighting was mid-year 2013.

Since her initial capture in 2010, she has given birth to at least two litters based on her body condition during pupping seasons. Coyote 441 appears to move quite well through downtown Chicago. She was one of the first coyotes we were able to study in downtown Chicago and her movements shocked us. Many of her locations are along Lake Shore Drive and within Lincoln Park, however, she includes several areas within Chicago in her home range. Although 441 has been visible at night, she has kept a low profile and we have not had any complaints reported for her despite her super urban lifestyle.
That's 441 in the foreground of the top photo, recorded by a camera in Lincoln Park Zoo.

Snacking in a parking lot; the prominent nipples imply she has pups. Studies of scat show that urban coyotes actually don't depend that much on trash; their main foods are rats, other small animals, and fruit. In the suburbs they also hunt deer, which is why I wish my neighborhood had some.

Map of 441's movements during the nine months she wore a collar.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

One thing I'm curious about, since the coyotes are so elusive and are active essentially only at night, where do they hole up during the daylight hours?

Do they dig burrows in parks? Establish "squats" in abandoned buildings? Perhaps even den up in crawlspaces, basements, damaged foundations, et cetera, in buildings that are still "active" and occupied by people?