The Carnivores Next Door

Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood: Mountain Lions (Photograph: Bruce Dale)

First it was the raccoons. Next came the coyotes. And then? Bigger carnivores. Urban and suburban areas in North America are home to a lot of small, wild predators, and now scientists believe that the coyote’s success in adapting to an urban lifestyle could pave the way for larger carnivores to move in.

Ohio State University professor Stan Gehrt has been studying coyote populations near Chicago for 12 years (his team’s research found the coyotes to be monogamous). He described the research in a talk at EcoSummit 2012, an international conference held in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the coyote groups under observation occupies the smallest known coyote territory ever observed—about a third of a square mile. To Gehrt: “That’s an indication that they don’t have to go far to find food and water. They’re finding everything they need right there, in the suburbs of Chicago. It amazes me.”

Coyotes are the largest mammalian carnivores—so far—to have adapted and thrived in an urban setting. Gehrt believes that “The coyote is the test case for other animals. Raccoons, skunks, foxes—they’ve already been able to penetrate the urban landscape pretty well. The coyote is the most recent and largest. The jury’s out with what’s going to happen with the bigger ones.”

So who are the bigger ones poised to invade? Wolves, mountain lions, and bears, for a start. Mountain lions are making appearances near cities already—including the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago and recently in Des Moines, Iowa. A family of black bears has recently been spotted roaming the suburban streets Cedar Grove, New Jersey.

Easy access to food attracts carnivores, such as black bears. (Photograph: George F. Mobley)

According to Gehrt, it’s these larger mammals that “are going to be an even bigger challenge.” It used to be that humans moved to urban areas to get away from the dangers of living near big predators. Now, it seems the carnivores are following us.

“The funny thing is that now we have more people on Earth and bigger cities than ever, we also now have carnivores moving into cities. It’s a two-way street: We’re expanding cities into their territories and they’re also coming in,” said Gehrt, who also holds appointments with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and Ohio State University Extension.

“It used to be rural areas where we would have this challenge of coexistence versus conflict with carnivores. In the future, and I would say currently, it’s cities where we’re going to have this intersection between people and carnivores,” he said. “We used to think only little carnivores could live in cities, and even then we thought they couldn’t really achieve large numbers. But we’re finding that these animals are much more flexible than we gave them credit for and they’re adjusting to our cities.

“That’s going to put the burden back on us: Are we going to be able to adjust to them living with us or are we not going to be able to coexist?”

Focusing on content that entertains, astounds, and informs, Amy Briggs is freelance writer and former senior editor with National Geographic Books . The author of National Geographic Angry Birds Space, Briggs worked closely with National Geographic NewsWatch's David Braun on National Geographic Tales of the Weird. Excited by all things trivial, odd, and just unusual, she lives in Virginia with her family.
  • Jamie Cunningham

    This is so true! My husband and I saw a mountain lion in our Katy neighborhood last month! (8pm on a Saturday) And this week he came across a coyote in the neighborhood (5am). Somewhat shocking discovery for 99 & Fry!

  • Brandon Nolan

    Seriousely? they don’t think that country people like me would not already know about that. I commonly see coyotes where I live and they can already be a nusance. My neighbor lost goats to mountain lions, and cats to coyotes.

  • pete sessions

    A few weeks ago I saw a mountain lion carcass along Rte 3S in Northern Mass., victim of traffic overnight. Young, probably a single female.

  • Ashley

    Although it may be true that they’re coming into our territory, I’m sure it’s not half as scary as us moving into theirs and them having no where to go. We’ve been moving into their territory and now they have very limited space on where they can go. Unfortunately, they tend to shoot and kill these animals (like the 7 black bears they just euthanized in Montana). And perhaps we’ll wind up in the same situation that we’ve been in with many other predators, where we wind up having to re-populate areas and trying to control the animals (such as with wolves) than just allowing them to live. Everyone is always scared about how unpredictable animals are, I’ve yet to meet an animal that doesn’t give warning except for humans.

    It’s articles like this that make humans get in a frizzy over wild life. If it weren’t for the wildlife, the ecosystem would be completely thrown off.

  • Della Braden

    As long as we keep taking over their “territory” then we will be seeing more & more coyotes, mountain lions, deer & whatever else lived there before.

  • Garrett

    I wouldn’t classify coyotes as carnivores, especially in a suburban setting. My guess is they are most likely scavenging our waste and eating whatever they can. Doubtful they could kill enough in a suburban setting to be pure carnivores

  • F. Dalton

    Canadians take it for granted we will see bears and mountain lions in some of our cities because we have always had good sized wild populations near our cities. But they aren’t living in the city, they are invading when they get hungry. Frankly, I don’t think this “expert?” know what he is talking about. Coyotes do not behave at all the same as wolves or cougars. We have always had plenty of wolves but they avoid populated areas. Although they are certainly a problem for ranchers in some areas, as are cougars occasionally. Bears are an issue every fall in some cities as they are attracted from the outskirts of towns into cities by the smell of fruit, garbage etc. If they want to study what happens and how to deal with it they just need to come north.

  • Rachel

    We have invaded the natural habitat of these animals. It is only to be expected that at some point, if we continue to expand our cities, large predators will have no where to go but into the suburban and city areas. Even in Maryland, citings of large wildlife is becoming increasing frequent. Naturally people are scared when a bear or coyote shows up in their neighborhood but it is not the animals fault that they have no where else to go. It is so sad to me that the first reaction of many is to kill the animal rather then seek out a solution to the problem and consider the shrinking of their habitat.

  • Rebel Scot

    Well, Duh!! Humans, especially those of the urban variety, seem to have difficulty understanding how adaptable most animals are, and how well they flourish in any environment that provides them adequate forage. When the population controls historically provided by human hunters are eliminated, it is inevitable that both prey and predator species will “move in” with their human neighbors. Many people expect the resulting interactions to be largely benign. An encounter with a Mama bear will dissuade one of that foolish notion very quickly. Deer in our suburbs cause billions of dollars in damage and numerous highway fatalities every year. Coyotes threaten small pets and, potentially, people. Anyone want to bet how mountain lions or wolves will behave?
    Folks need to recall that “wild” is a meaningful part of the phrase “wild animals.” Good luck to those who forget that.

  • Jay Arr

    I live just 15 minutes from downtown L.A. in the neighborhood of Silverlake. We see coyotes very frequently. It is not unusual to hear dogs, big and small, begin to bark loudly and all at once. Sometimes in the middle of the barking you can hear a panicked yelping from a small dog, followed by silence. We know instantly what happened. Little Misty has been smoked by a coyote. This is NOT infrequent or isolated. It happens. When I see posters on phone poles near our local supermarket with pics of small dogs that have disappeared. The first thought is, coyote got it.

  • Tom Murray

    I’ve come across coyotes at work for years. They haven’t caused any problems and we just leave each other alone. I might be more concerned if mountain lions moved in though.

  • Maggie Devens

    ever since i was a small child in Lake Jackson, Tx the wild animals have been a part of my surrounding landscape. there were black leopards all around in the 50’s. we would hear them roaring at night and find their footprints in our flower beds in the morning. i live in central texas now and i have seen 4 black leopards and several cougars and they coyote are just a fact of life. i love to sit out in the evening and listen to the coyote. i have never had a problem with them getting my live stock EXCEPT my ducks. we have bobcats here as well. i love the wild critters.

  • russ

    In the urban area in Orange County, 5 years ago a mountain lion killed (and partially ate) a young woman who was jogging in the park. Cougars are routinely seen here; bears are common in Pasadean (google “Meatball bear”). Coyotes killed and ate our cat. We have company in the food chain now.

  • Paul

    I don’t understand the concern with coyotes. They have been present everywhere I’ve ever lived with the exception of center-city Nashville and a fairly urban Pittsburgh, PA neighborhood. They shy away from humans and are not a threat at all. Maybe a nuisance if you own small animals? I rather like their chattery singing as well.

  • Steve B

    can’t we all just get along!

  • kablooy

    I think we need to move the large predators into gang infested areas to help cut down on gang members.
    Use one animal to control another….I prefer the bears and mountain lions to gang members anyway.

  • Justin C. Houk

    I was walking with my daughter in our the inner east side Portland neighborhood when a Coyote crossed the road right in front of us. It was broad daylight.

  • Nicholas Hancock

    Here in central NC there is massive cutting of timber and destruction of thousands of acres of habitat for wild creatures, all for money. It’s no wonder that the now homeless critters are searching for food in urban areas.

  • palikaji

    ARticles like this really frustrate me, they seem benign but they actually contribute to the prejudice against wildlife and the assumption that we are the ones being impinged on. A more complete ecological picture could inform readers that undomesticated animals are in fact the ones whose territories have been invaded. It presumes we are separate from Nature thus the spin that they are coming into “our” territory. FAct is humans have moved into their rightful fair share zone of survival and thrival so naturally they are around.

    The ecological facts are that human population is unchecked, rampant, inconsiderate, presumptuous, and ignorant to its survival being linked to healthy intact ecosystems and that almost all large animals on the plant are on a fast track to extinction primarily due to loss of habitat as humans move deeper and deeper into previously determined difficult habitats to “tame”.

    How sad that that there is not enough undeveloped protected and conserved wild land for mountain lions, bears, wolves, coyotes, bobcats to thrive in. I’m grateful they are there reminding us that we are Nature, we are not separate nor independent of their well being and ultimately it is the wild landscape that we’ve evolved over millions of years to thrive in – not the ecologically toxic urban landscape.

  • Albert Gordon

    There have been 5 panther dens along a 4.5 mile stretch of Collier Blvd. Drivers are more likely to kill them than for us to see them. They are timid, ,probably because we do not feed them. Even the Black Bear from Big Cypress come into the develpment to eat garbage or Coco plums but run back at the site of humans. We need keep our garbage in our garages until the morning of pick-up, so as not to encourage the bears. Humans hae to learn how to liove with wild animals.

  • Enuf Istoomuch

    Evolution is continuing. Animals continue to adapt to new conditions.

    Time to start shooting the more adapted dangerous animals. Allowing them to spread back into long urbanized and long suburbanized areas is a formula for getting innocents killed.

    Having been an EMT on the scene of a Black Bear attack, I can tell you that is not something you want to see happen to your child you thought was playing safely in your back yard.

    Kill these adapted carnivores whenever and where ever they are found.

  • Kat

    Coyotes have been biting small children in Colorado with alarming frequency; even when walking with their parents

  • Brad Lauer

    Hunt them, eat them… see em go

  • Bryant MacDonald

    About 2 years ago a dog was wondering among people during a farmers market downtown, apparently looking for a handout. An astute individual noticed it was a coyote and called animal control. He didn’t bother to wait. Seemed like he was enjoying himself and completely at ease with people although I do not mean to imply he was tame or not a potential threat to kids or pets.

  • Michael Pekarik

    Okay, for all of you out there complaining that we are moving into the animals territory, where would you have us live? Aren’t we also a product of this planet? Just get used to having animals around, they’ve always been here and always will be, it’s part of living here, deal with it.

  • Michael Momeni

    We are not innocent; we hunt them just for killing them.
    They hunt because they are hungry. We have moved into their hunting region and taking over their habitat. Who is aggressor, us or them?

    Is it time we would move out of their habitat by creating larger region for them. I have a lot of respect for the mountain lions, bears and wolf. Please help them to survive from our human killer cosines.

  • colletti

    I have lived in my county for 50 years and I have seen every patch of foreset destroyed for some ugyly development and its no wonder the animals are adapting to find food where they can since they cannot live in teh woods anymore becuase there aren’t any? We need ot save the mid-atllatnic decidious forest before it disappears. WHen you leave fragments of forest, the trees develop diseases much faster the oak trees are dying of antrhacnose due to stress the dogwoods have fungus disease and our natvve trees are screaming for help (MD/DC/VA/NC)

  • Damir

    We also live in suburban Naples and have a bear family come and inspect our garbage nightly. As long as you keep it locked – they just keep on about their business. They get somewhat bolder lately, but the Finsh and Whildlife people offer nohelp at all. Their main advice is too keep the trash locked…

  • Frederick Smith

    We should have proper use of animal control. Our first thought shouldn’t be to kill these animals. Although I do understand the frustration with small animals that belong to families being killed… However, they are surviving just like us. We need more wild life preservations. It will be sad one day to see how many species we have killed off for self-interest and revenge.

  • Homer Jason

    I think the problem is that we humans are intruding onto their territory.

  • Jack Jackington

    If we shoot them will they become bulletproof???

  • Al

    I’m getting tired of hearing this misanthropic drivel about animals, that we’ve invaded “their territory” and we are wrecking the environment with global warming, overdevelopement, ad nauseaum. If this is indeed true then why is it we allow immigration into this country to the tune of 20 million a year? We have to build a new city every three years. That’s only for the legal immigrants. They come here to live a modern lifestyle, drive gas guzzling SUV’s, and go on the power grid. The argument against humans is hypocritical and a convenient ruse to attack our property rights. The cure for these nuisance animals in city limits is as easy as a bowl of antifreeze.

  • Bill Howard

    The assumption from many of the posters that humans are invading the animals territory is not entirely accurate. For instance, North Carolina is not a historical habitat for coyotes, yet coyotes are very prevalent there now. The over regulation and even absense of hunting techniques in order to control populations causes the animals to have to expand their territories, which is when you start seeing them move into urban developements. Another case study in point regarding North Carolina. The whitetail deer population is believed to be larger now than any other time. In the 70’s it was unheard of to even have a deer spotted in many counties. Now the season is so liberal in the efforts to control the overpopulation that one can harvest an UNLIMITED number of whitetail deer in a season. UNLIMITED.

  • ZC

    Coyotes are omnivores and scavengers, perhaps “opportunists” would be a good term. They, like essentially every creature in nature, can be aggressive, but tend not to be. Simple steps, such as NOT FEEDING THEM as some people do, and not leaving your morsel of a doggie on a leash outside at night, would minimize most issues. They are here, they are increasing, and they will not go away. My opinion, learn to live with them.

    Mountain lion attacks make headlines, but you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being attacked.

    What results can we expect from habitat loss and encroachment, combined with the inherent drive to survive? They will adapt, so then should we.

    The elimination of top predators has allowed the population of deer to skyrocket. This puts the onus on us, having now taken the role of top predator, to manage their population. There are counties in Texas with more deer than people. I don’t hunt, but maybe it’s time we all broaden our palates to enjoy a little wild venison now and then.

    I also think that this “encroachment” into seemingly the human domain has existed far longer than we realize. The internet has merely increased our exposure to the facts.

  • Pat Jones

    Awwwwwww….Mountain lions are cute.

  • Jim

    ‘Their Territory’ ?! So just where is ‘OUR’ territory if the Human Race is encroaching on ‘Their’ territory?

    It always astounds me that people think that way. We are the human race, technically the top of the food chain (unless you meet one of the predators they refer to and are not armed or are in some other way incapacitated, in which case we are FOOD)

    We for intensive purposes WON the race! to the Victors and all that.

    Now don’t get all environmentalist on my comment. Killing just to kill is a waste. But having wild animals amongst humans will never work. Wild is Wild and will kill and eat if it gets hungry and doesn’t fear what ever it wants to eat or feels threatened.

    These ‘City Folk’ need to look at the MILLIONS of miles of undeveloped(or agriculture use) land in North America and realized that just because some of our cities are growing, Wildlife still has plenty of room.

    Something else to note. it has been proven that there are more acres of Forested land in North America today than when the Pilgrims landed. The main reason is Humans fight Forest Fires! The second reason is Humans plant trees and foliage.

  • Elsie E Connelly

    I say leave the wild animals alone. Human sprawl is what is driving the animals into the city. If you have a cat, keep it indoors. If you have a dog, bring it in at night. Personally, I would much rather be around the wild animals, than most of the people I deal with on a daily basis.

  • snewsom2997

    We have Mountain Lion Sittings in St Louis, mostly males, moving down the Missouri River. We have allowed their pre species to grow unchecked, and we have protected many of the apex carnivores. Nature adapts, or it goes extinct, this is no surprise, now humans can adapt, and be a little more careful when in the urban outdoors, god only knows it isn’t the Animals that pose the greatest threat in urban environments.

  • Jim ONeill

    I live in a rural area and we have bears and coyotes and the other animals mentioned except for mountain lions. We even have wild hogs. We can coexist.

    But, in a suburban area, I think people need to understand that coyotes help control the deer population and many people in suburban areas are sick and tired of deer eating their landscape. Well, coyotes kill fawns for dinner. They help control the deer population and help save your landscape.

  • Paul

    I work in the pro-shop at a fairly busy golf course right along side the interstate, and one day a couple months ago a coyote was roaming around outside. I initially thought it was a dog until a couple people pointed out it was in fact a coyote. He definitely seemed comfortable around humans. I petted it briefly and a couple of my cart guys gave the coyote some water and treats. It hung around for a few more hours before it roamed elsewhere.

  • bean

    somewhat on subject. someone below referenced the seven black bears, five of which were adults and two cubs that were just euthanized in montana. The bears were killed because of one ignorant man who had been FEEDING these bears for YEARS, and putting the other residents in the area at risk. So basically because of this genius who just loves bears, seven are dead. I understand why, but the cubs probably should’ve been spared, as they had a good chance of adapting to a new living situation. The idiot who couldn’t help but feed these bears, should be facing legal charges of some kind. We live in Montana, and everyone knows a fed bear is a dead bear. Where the bears lived there isn’t a shortage of food, these animals weren’t starving. They should of been able to coexist almost perfectly, but this guy totally screwed it up by feeding them, making them dependent on human handouts. If I just went out and shot some bears, I’d be arrested, but this guy…. it just seems kind of criminal to me. NEVER FEED WILD DANGEROUS ANIMALS! even deer qualify. Where I live there is plenty of space for wildlife, that doesn’t mean they’ll stay in it if something grabs their attention, and seems worth the risk.

  • Lucy

    “…Time to start shooting the more adapted dangerous animals. Allowing them to spread back into long urbanized and long suburbanized areas is a formula for getting innocents killed.”
    @ Enuf Istoomuch – the animals aren’t innocent?

    Your statement is the best evidence so far of who the REALLY dangerous animals are.

  • JanWindsong

    What is astounding is the different prospectives here? Will there ever be a time we can actually appreciate and discuss issues. We share the earth with all kinds of beings – yes beings as we are. Given all things, we are the least accomplished.

  • Jim Costello

    Coyotes may not be native to the east but then again neither is the anglo culture. Our need to “win the race” and dominate will send us into eventual extinction.

  • Karl

    To Pat Jones that said “Awwwwwww….Mountain lions are cute.”
    I say, yes, they look cute. On the other hand, to them, we may look delicious.

  • Bruce Patin

    I have children and one old parent. I want them to be able to walk alone at night without fear of being killed or maimed. I am a vegetarian, but when it comes to survival, I wouldn’t hesitate to kill a dangerous wild animal. For those who think we need them to control the population of deer, in spite of my feelings, a bullet is probably easier on them than being killed by a lion. Birth control is the most humane way of controlling the wild animal and human population.

  • Clewish

    When the story quotes the Professor as saying ‘their territory’ I don’t think he is saying the territory belongs to the animals, give it back, it simply means that is where they lived and it’s been developed in some way. Take a breather for a minute and don’t get so upset every time someone refers to an animal’s territory. Geez it’s not like sane people are asking the human species to cut it out and move underground or something crazy.

    It’s amazing how many people just say screw it we own this rock, let the rest of the ecosystem adapt!! If it doesn’t or won’t screw it too we don’t need it!!! Go Broncos!!*!*!

    That’s just as insane as saying we need to give it all back to the animals.

    There must be a balance or the whole system will collapse at some point.

  • Michael Windover

    Cougars have been coming into Waterton (across the lake from Goat Haunt Montana) for years looking for the goats and deer that feed on lawns

  • Caribis

    It is a myth that cities are encroaching on their habitat. Chicago, Des Moines, Milwaukee, New York, are not encroaching on the habitat of large predators. The one exception is where greater LA is running up into the San Gabriel mountains. What has happened is that we have stopped shooting these animals whenever they’re encountered and they are encroaching on the cities because all of the other habitat is occupied. This is a success story if you are pro-predator. Hunting laws either prohibit or regulate the killing of these animals. When they can be hunted the majority of private land, and a lot of public land, is closed to hunting. These are sanctuaries where populations breed and expand from. Coyotes, bears and now (in MN, WI & the UP of MI) wolves are breeding and taking advantage of the smorgasbord of garbage, deer and small animals that have been thriving in our urban and suburban environment. You can probably keep the bears, mountain lions and wolves out of urban and large suburban areas by allowing the police to shoot on sight, but the coyotes you are going to have to live with. They are too smart, adaptable and breed like crazy. Or you can learn to be the occasional snack. Not because they are crazy mad for human meat, but because of accidents and your neighbors who feed them and teach them that humans are below them in the pecking order.

  • Rainmaker

    You might want to read Darwin’s Origin of Species sometime. Remember life has been trying to make on this earth for only a billion years or so.


    October 5. Hello.
    Clearly mankind in at the top
    of the food chain. We get to eat
    whatever we decide to eat. As for me
    I enjoy peanut butter, fresh vegetable
    garden stuff and food that grows on
    trees like apples, lemons, and stuff that grow on bushes like bluebarries
    and Reece’s pieces. Raccoons can share
    what I got to eat. So can frogs and
    birds, lions, giraffes, porcupine families, meerkats, and in case he looses his singing and dancing gig,
    Big Bird is always welcome at my
    neighborhood. There is a good reason 
    we’re at the top of the food chain,
    we know how to grow fruits and
    vegetables in our orchards and
    gardens and we know all about
    sharing good eats with our family,
    friends and neighbors. Pot luck dinners
    are the best ever. Invite little furry
    animals over to your house often. They
    will appreciate it a lot.

  • Tony

    We should respect our animal neighbors but that doesn’t have to extend to us coexisting peacefully with species who pose a danger to us and/or our children. Oh and btw just b/c we mark our territory with houses, road, fences,…. instead of pee doesn’t make it any less our territory.

  • MD

    Hey, Jim from SC, I’m curious. Your third paragraph begins:

    “We for intensive purposes WON the race! ”

    Did you mean to say that, We, for (highly concentrated and focused) purposes, WON the race?

    Which is what your use of the word, ‘intensive’, actually means, and, in this context, would be an interesting and creative play on the traditional expression, ‘for all intents and purposes’, which, I suspect, it was your actual intent and purpose to express.

    That being said, I agree with you that large predators in urban areas are a serious threat to human safety, especially children. However, your assertion that there is still plenty of land left is an over-simplification of the situation. Your parenthetical, “or agricultural use” is a good example. Land under agricultural use, certainly supports a variety of species but seldom those that were natively supported by the same area in its unmodified state. Those species had to re-locate or perish. This brings up another complication regarding your “millions of (sq.?) miles” of land still available. Most wild animals can’t just hop on the Harley and move to the next open tract of suitable acreage.
    When we convert land from its native condition to any human use, agricultural, sub-urban, urban, the displaced species may be, and often are, incapable of making the trek to the next, nearest survivable spot.

    Yes, Jim, we did, “win the race” and we are top of the food chain. This is not license for wanton destruction, “Killing just to kill is a waste”, but rather graduation to a higher purpose.

    With great power comes great responsibility.

  • Ian

    Big deal. So we learn to live with them and control populations when need be. If you walk in the woods or at night, take precautions just as the millions of people who live in their native habitats would. Precautions could be an emergency whistle and/or a bright flashlight with a lumen rating at or above 200 to completely blind a threatening animal. And bear spray if you feel threatened by Bears.

  • Michael

    I think the actual concern for many urbanites may not the “danger” posed by urban coyotes but the diminished sense of social control over the environment. People in urban areas typically expect society to be able to control more aspects of reality than people in rural areas. Hence, wildlife being “out of place” needs to be remedied so perceptions of social control can return to desired levels.

  • Thumper

    MD from Seattle: I think Jim meant to say:
    We, to all intents and purposes, WON the race!

  • bob kelly

    Corossman makes a very nice 1200 fps air rifle, effective against the largest coyote or racoon and quiet enough not to bother your neighbors. just be careful of your background when you shoot.

  • Charles McBrayer

    Coyotes are fierce carivores. Will tackle anything that is edible if the coyote has the confidence to do so. Confidence from experience or from the behavior of the potential meal. Dogs are no match for a coyote. They stroll through L.A. neighborhoods raiding left out pet food from porches, garbage receptacles, eating your pet cat, or dog and anthing else encountered. Some Coyotes populations have been discovered to possess wolf DNA and has cross bred with dogs. These hybrids that reach maturity are dangerous. Larger by far than an ordinary coyote but no less fierce and not afraid of people. These will be the next wave making themselves known in a broader fashion. Coyote .2 (if you will) and a woman in a New England state was killed and eaten by coyotes with wolf DNA.

  • sara

    I’ve lived in the forest may whole life and ran into plenty of “wild” animals, and so have my neighbors. It has never been an issue, because they are truly more afraid of us. As I see it, they were here first, so please don’t be that jerk that kills a bear or a puma not out of self defence, but fear. Just don’t surprise them. Make lots of noise, I prefer yelling ” YO BEAR!” every couple minutes when walking alone. Oh, and deer are pretty, but don’t go trying to pet them unless you’re a serious mountaineer. They’re cute, but they’re still wild animals with hooves.

  • E J M

    Interesting… as far as nature is concerned no one species owns a right to anyone territory or place, and that includes humans.

    While I have a concern about potential safety issues, I think I’d rather have to worry about some of those wild animals than the animal species that tends to use guns to shoot other people.

    I really think we’re going to have to learn to coexist. Heck, I kind of thought that coyotes were already fairly common in urban settings, at least they seem to be in California since I can remember (late 80’s maybe). I’ve rarely heard of them being a problem for human safety. I think humans have had more problems with rodents threatening safety via disease than larger animals, but that could change.

    Ultimately, we’ll probably have to have some type of reasonable animal control measures, but we’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re going to keep ALL of these animals out of our cities. No matter how we may feel with regard to our safety, these animals are an important part of our ecosystem.

  • Adam’s Myth

    I’ve confronted a mountain lion in our local county park, which is bounded by dense suburbia in every direction. Looks like a giant tan house cat, waist-high, long tail, small head. I was with my 2-year-old son, otherwise known as “lunch.”

    The problem is that we can’t shoot them. In our city, when my dad was a kid in the 1940s, a mountain lion would show up in town and it was suddenly a shooting gallery.

    Today, the law is I have to call “animal control,” which sends out a pickup truck driven by whatever police officer is on disciplinary action that week, and they say, sorry, we can’t do anything about it. That’s a direct quote.

  • Enuf Istoomuch

    I find it absurd that people speak of animals as if they were sentient, intelligent … well … PEOPLE!?

    I spent many years exploring wilderness, living and work too in the often called “Urban – Wilderness Interface” zones. I am intimately familiar with cases of wildlife attacking people.

    Ecological and preservationist points of view are all useful in the great scheme of things, but all must have their limits. When the balance is the safety of people on city streets and suburban yards the animals must lose.

    The price of treating carnivores as if they have a right to move amongst dense human populations is a gruesome one. This I know from treating a 16 year old girl partially eaten by a Black Bear.

    Not fun.

  • Mad Jayhawk

    Coyotes are plentiful here. Plenty of quail and rabbits and an occasional cat or dog for them to eat. Residents here with pets have adapted and do not take chances. Coyotes are not afraid of humans and will take a pet in a heartbeat. There is nothing more terrifying than seeing a struggling little Fluffy disappearing into the brush in the mouth of a coyote. We see 2 – 3 of them working the shrubbery looking for rabbits or quail almost weekly, I usually walk late in the evening in our senior citizen community. One came up behind me once on one of my walks and got within 5 feet of me. Scared me to death. I carry a walking stick and was ready to put him into orbit if he came closer.

  • Ric Stephens

    I walk at night, 5 to 10 miles at a time, because I work weird hours. I see coyotes all the time. While a couple have acted like they were curious about my presence in the wee hours and once, one complained loudly about the presence of me and my dog (who masses over twice the average coyote), typically they go their way and I go mine. I’ve also seen cougar, fox, many raccoons and WAY too many skunks, armadillos and opossums. I’ve never seen any wild animal act aggressively toward me or my dog. Most of my wildlife encounters are on parkland around the Grapevine Reservoir or along rivers and creeks. I’m betting most of the people who call for the eradication of predators in urban/suburban areas probably never get out except to move between their cars and some building anyway.

  • Ryan N.

    Describing these animals as “invading” urban areas would be laughable if it wasn’t an indication of just how destructive and sick American culture has become. Of course, Western Civilization is what has “invaded” this continent, these wild lands, and these animals homes.

    To provide some perspective for this article I’d like to borrow from Derrick Jensen. This land used to be home to so many passenger pigeons that passing flocks would darken the daytime sky. But our culture slaughtered them and slaughtered them and slaughtered them until they were all dead. Whales used to be so plentiful that they were a danger in shipping channels. But our culture slaughtered them and slaughtered them and slaughtered them until they were almost all gone. Of course the same can be said for the iconic bison, once so plentiful that herds could pass by for hours with a person seeing neither a front nor a back to the group. And the list could go on and on.

    Now what we hear is that humans are on the verge of causing the 6th wave of mass extinctions. Over the past 27 years, human activity has killed off half of the live coral on the Great Barrier Reef, the single largest structure ever created by living organisms. And, of course, there is global warming, which we have known about for decades and despite all manner of warnings and reason we have found ourselves completely unable to adequately address.

    We should be worrying about what macabre type of environment we are going to leave for our very next generation, not whether there are coyotes and bears who have discovered the obscene amounts of food we place in our garbage.

    Any fear, limiting of activities, or – god forbid – respect we might have to learn to have for those who don’t see us as at the top of the food chain can only be beneficial in finding a way to somehow save ourselves from how deeply we have screwed up this planet. Its too little to late for the Carolina Parakeet, the Caribbean Monk Seal and the Tecopa Pupfish but it doesn’t have to be that way for our children.

  • CMA

    Dear Al from Astoria, NY
    Perhaps the best cure for YOU would be a bowl of antifreeze.

  • michelle

    please leave those animals alone !! it’s not that they are moving into the city. it’s us who have chased them away and destroyed their habitats . they only struggle to find ways to survive,and that’s not their fault!

  • SM

    Black bears have been seen all over Northampton MA, including downtown.

  • nick

    if it was Africa or a different country there would be a uproar about protection of the native species but there in U.S. they will look at them like pest and look too exterminate the problum

  • judy a brown lawson

    The human population has doubled in the past sixty years in the USA. Surprising that we have pushed the wildlife population to the extremes of their territories? Didn’t we do the same thing with Native Americans 150 years ago? The only solution for wildlife is for human population to shrink, and I don’t know how that’s going to happen without either divine intervention, a plague, or an onslaught of common sense (ain’t gonna happen, Joe!)

  • SM

    Black Bears have been seen in Northampton Ma, inlcuding downtown.

  • Robin Buscato

    One of our outside cameras caught a coyote taking a neighbor kitty about one year ago (suburban neighborhood across from a big university): it was horrible. Since we also have kitties that are occasionally allowed to go outside during the day, I have become very nervous and keep a wary eye on them when they are outside. This is a pain, and our kitties now enjoy less time outdoors as a result. Although I am reluctant to harm anything that looks so much like a dog, it it’s a question of our kitties or the coyote, the coyote is not going to win…..

  • JM

    A black bear cub made the mistake of looking for food in the street of Easton, Pa a short time ago. Ignorants called 911 in panic even calling it a Grizzly bear. Yeah a grizzly in Eastern PA. The police showed up the scared beard try to run back to the woods but it was corned and shot to death by the police.


  • Ian

    Not all predators are 4 legged. We lived in the desert for a number of years with plenty of coyotes around us. Our cats were extremely desert wise and were with us for 5-9 years and usually out at night. A family of Great Horned Owls moved into the area and within a month all 3 cats were gone. Sometimes the cats eat the birds and sometimes the birds eat the cats. That’s the cycle of life.

  • Craig T

    Black bears and coyotes are omnivores.
    I live in suburbia just a few miles (inside the beltway) from the Baltimore City line, and I have seen a coyote in my neighborhood. Deer , raccoons, foxes, and hawks are commonly seen on my .3 acre lot.

  • Abby

    We take over their habitat, pave over their hunting grounds, build homes in their neighborhoods, put stores in their territory and then surprise, surprise — we see “wildlife” — animals are just trying to survive…

  • brian

    I think people have killed each other more than animals ever have. I would worry more about them while walking the streets of suburbia than anything else. Those big four wheel machines they operate with wreckless abandon through the streets are more dangerous. Usually the news is about someone shot or run over not mauled and eaten. Animals (dinosaurs) were here first, they are part of the ecosystem. Our survival depends on them regardless of what you think. Adapt to it. Use your brain. Even the Maori respect the lion. Try living like that. The dingo did eat her baby. Lesson for you learned hard by them-stay in the tent with your kids and keep it zipped up.

  • Margo Fetters

    There was a front page news article done on me in the NW Herald about 2 months ago as I am a naturalist and wildlife/outdoors photographer for over 20 years that has been working with co-existing with predatory animal influx in our community. The amount of missing small domestic animals i.e. cats, dogs under 30 lbs and such has made for an anxiety ridden county. A large part of this “problem” of influx of larger predatory animals is the lack of awareness and education that states, counties, cities, etc. have to offer when it comes to this situation. The lack of education on people on how to co-habitate with these animals leads to injuries and death in some cases whether it be animal or human. Too many “flyers” stapled to telephone poles out here offering rewards for Fluffy or that little chihuahua that was out on a “chain” in the backyard unattended. The hawks here grace the sky along with packs of coyotes howling/yipping in the middle of the nights as their kill screams its last breath before being taken down. After the article was ran many people came up to me and were astonished on what they were unaware of living amongst them. You could tell the few common sense ideas along with some good educational awareness has brought some peace to the community knowing on how to deal with situations as they arise. There are numbers to call, proper procedures to follow along with respecting what comes into our territory as something that needs to be co-existed with on a serious matter. Keep you animals indoors when you go to sleep, those 20′ extension leashes…not such a good idea when walking a small dog at night, basically bait for the Great Horned Owl that took a Chihuahua last year and flew it like a kite, it’s little sweater saving it from imminent death. Let’s not forget the drought we have suffered (and still are) it has pushed predatory animals to their brink also for survival of the fittest and changed migratory patterns for wildlife leaving them to fend for themselves. It’s all about awareness and education, it saves alot of lives, human and animal from unfortunate and unnecesessary situations.

  • brian

    Maasai not Maori….

  • Ernest Spoon
  • Chris the Home Contractor

    I recently caught four cubs and a momma black bear on camera. The neighbor also said that he saw a couple black bears in his years a few nights ago.

  • Barry Bonham

    Man’s survival trumps that of animals (unluess you hate mankind, as many left wing nutjobs do) So for the sake of survival of children, and domesticated pets, carnivores should be shot and their meat cooked and given to the indegant as food for THEIR survival. You left wing nut jobs of course (for the sake of your “conscience” will not get any of them pickings.

    he he!

  • David Ridge

    As more wildlife moves into town be ready for violations to any endangers species act because people will not put up with it!

  • Ted Guilly

    I do not think we will have to worry about it too much. Man seems to be on a rapid path to self destruction anyway. If we do not blow each other up we will die off from starvation and disease. Its inevitable folks. We are the stupid one’s. We are the wasteful one’s. NATURE DOES NOT HAVE TO WORRY. JUST SIT BACK AND WATCH IT HAPPEN. The animals will just move back in and take back what was theirs in the first place. You know what happens when a species thinks that they are the rulers and that they can kill and eradicate at their own will. They self implode! Hmm, I wonder if we will even be around in ten years to worry about it. Something to think about eh? Stories like this just S_ck.

  • Maxim

    There are some inconvenient truths that environmentalists overlook. 1) Get into an airplane & fly about: you will see a vast amount of unused space on this very large continent. We have not squeezed the animal population into desperation. 2) It is the decrease in hunting that has taught animals not to fear humans & enabled their populations to grow. 3) A young girl in Cape Breton was killed by coyotes: wild animals will harm you & we cannot live in peace & bliss with them. California New Age blather aside, humans are more important & a balance must be struck.
    Conclusion: any predator I see near my children or dog will be shot.

  • Martin

    It is astounding that National Geographic is calling omnivorous animals carnivores! Carnivores can ONLY eat meat. They are unable to digest plant matter. Cats are carnivores. Raccoons, coyotes, and bears are omnivores. They can eat almost anything. I guess carnivores sounds scarier than garbage eater.

  • Ted C Gegi

    I’ve seen the following animals within 4 miles of my neighborhood: raccoons,coyotes,lions,tigers, giraffes, monkeys,alligators,and even elephants. Luckily, they’re all inside the safe and friendly confines of The San Diego Zoo.

  • Arthur P. Kaske


  • rick

    to al from new york., spoken like a true new yorker. pay three times as much for housing and twice as much for everything else then act like you are so much more enlightened than everyone else. yep,your so smart. and although I agree with you on immigration that only worsens this countries over growth. now lets dive right into why people move to the suburbs and it isn’t to get away from animals. its because of snobbery and racism. I live inner city and grew up here. if it wasn’t for people trying to get away from the blacks or trying to show off to everyone that they bought a new house in the burbs then the animals would still have plenty of room and there would be more farms. now tell me I’m wrong

  • MollyLin

    We had a Mountain Lion in our backyard a few nights ago, and often see bobcats, foxes, coyotes and owls. I love living here and enjoy all the animals. Just respect them, and keep alert when walking by yourself and DEF keep an eye on young children. I’m happy to see wild animals flourishing. The one animal I’d find tough to deal with are bears, as they clearly have no qualms aout breaking into your garage and stealing your meatballs.

  • Marcus Antonius

    Keep your dog on a leash when you walk them at night. Use a flashlight & carry a walking stick. People who love their cats & dogs don’t let them roam. Cats eat 5 million songbirds daily in the USA. Coyotes, bobcats, & even large owls eat cats in turn. Turn your outside lights on at night, & give the critters a second to depart before you go out. Even so, the most dangerous animals of all are Godless men prowling around, like lions looking to devour someone.

  • Ravishankar K.M

    The human encroachment has left very little space for the wild animals. In the state of Karnataka in India, atleast 20 people get killed by leopards, tigers and bears every year. 100s of villagers get trampled by elephants. Elephants also gobble millions of dollars worth food and commercial crops. Few months back, two wild elephants sneaked into the historical city of Mysore and went on rampage. Many were severely injured, few people were killed and properties were damaged before they were caught.

  • DL Flygare

    as far as carnivores; we regularly see raccoon, fox, and coyote on our property. We lost a goat to a puma last spring and see bobcat on occasion. the opossums and skunks just occur as road kill around here.
    No attacks on humans that I’ve heard of, but there has been a documented case of rabies on the other side of the mountain.

  • cheezy skillet

    After readin this articleI saw a cat the other day -scared me to death. I was so scared. I was not sure what to do. I was so scared I couldn’t move. When I finally got the courage to overcome my fear, I looked the cat in the eye. Scared of what I was looking at, I couldn’t even focus. Fnally, I drummed up the courage to stare it down. I was grateful to see my nieghbor’s siamese cat.

  • Bob

    Carnivora is the order of the mammals mentioned in the story. That some of them eat plant material doesn’t change their classification. Felids (cats) are obligate carnivores, and must eat meat, many other carnivores can also digest plant matter.

    In western Washington, black bears are frequent visitors in neighborhoods, usually living in nearby green belts. Cougars (Puma concolor, mountain lion) also take advantage of green belts in urban settings, as long as there’s a corridor to the wildlands. Hence, a cougar was in Discovery Park in Seattle for a while, one made a visit to Bill Gate’s home in Medina, etc. To believe that leaving pets outside is okay, and then killing the nearest predator when the pet disappears shows a certain, shall we say, stupidity.

    Given that the science of the past decades have shown that our food webs (food chain) are dependent on top-down forcing by predators, one would expect a more reasoned approach to re-establishing healthy predator populations. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to maintain the natural health of our environment by being good stewards of the land and our wildlife neighbors.



  • Joseph marcucilli

    Maybe we should consider environmental issues as important and not seek the destruction of our planet as one of America’s goals.

  • Henry

    Before anyone else posts, I beg of all of you to check your spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar before you post. It’s just painful trying to read some of your posts, regardless of whatever point you’re trying to get across.

  • Laurie Mann

    I wonder about the opening comment about the raccoon – did raccoons ever leave urban/suburban areas?

    We moved out to rural Pennsylvania a few years ago and were told to be on the lookout for coyotes. We heard them a few times, but they seem to have moved on about two years ago.

    The big surprise for me was seeing a lynx on the side of Route 128 in Lexington, MA this year. I grew up in Massachusetts and we never saw anything larger than a fox while I was growing up.

  • anonymousemale

    Humans are the largest group of carnivores living in our out of cities, as we humans spread and take over the landscape other mammals must find other solutions to their own survival.

  • laurie

    Big deal about coyotes. I’ve been living around them for ages. They help keep down the rodents. Americans keep populating into the animals’ living spaces, and we are taking over. If the larger animals are found in urban areas, they should be tranquilized and relocated into the wild. Do not call “Wildlife Services” (a federal killing agency): that is the American Idiot’s cruel way of handling the issue. Keep your small pets indoors.

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  • Chris

    Perhaps animals will finally decide to follow our example and start practicing population control on humans.

  • Jan

    We in Las Vegas basically live in the middle of the desert; however, we are not without our natural preditors (to say the least about the human preditors). A cougar has been seen in the parking area of the MGM, bobcats have been seen. The usual possums, coyotes and skunks are here. We also have a rather large owl species and hawks. If we persist in encroaching on the animals territory (which, face it, is all of the outdoors) we need to live with a wary eye out. We as TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN does not give us license to kill anything that bothers you. People leave food out, leave pets out or staked out like bait and blindly walk around with phones on our head. No animal would be so stupid. They protect their babies and hide them, they are wary of possible enemies that want to kill them. If we get rid of all the animals other than ourselves, start shooting people that might get into your garbage because they’re hungry?

  • Cecilia Hennessy

    For all the comments that are complaining that coyotes, bears, raccoons, etc., are called “carnivores” and not “omnivores”: these species belong to the order called “Carnivora”. Yes, they eat other things, sometimes most of their diet is plant-based, but the way they’ve been taxonomically classified is as members of Carnivora, based on tooth structure and eye position. Just trying to clear this up a little. 🙂

  • Ned Bruha

    This article in Nat Geo, just like their TV programming, is following suit with so many others who have the power to help instead of hinder animals. They have found that If they talk about, film, and add drama to wildlife dilemmas, they make more money. Wildlife and larger predators will always adapt and overcome. If you feed them, they will come… sadly, if the world continues to demand programming trash like this, they will continue to laugh all the way to the bank.

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

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