MISSOULA - Coyotes are considered one of the most adaptable predators to ever exist. You more than likely don’t see them too often, but coyotes thrive right in our backyards.
A long time ago coyotes were only found in prairies and deserts around western and central US. But as European settlers came to America in the 1800s, they started to change the landscape, using the environment for logging and agriculture.
This created more open habitats allowing coyotes to expand their natural range. During this time people were also attempting to extirpate wolves and mountain lions which created less competition for coyotes.
Many cities now are along the edge of nature and coyotes learned to adapt to these new urban areas. By taking advantage of little pieces of habitat and food they started to thrive. In these towns and cities research has shown they prefer wooded and shrubby areas and utilize parks and golf courses.
Our backyards actually provide quite the dinner spread for coyotes. Since rodents, rabbits, deer, and even fruit are often found in urban environments they can take advantage of these resources. They’re not very picky eaters and can even eat food left out by people.
Coyotes live in social settings, living in pairs or groups and although we are used to hearing about pack life — they typically travel alone.
If you’re worried about running into them, you can put your mind at ease. Multiple studies have proven that coyotes will go out of their way to avoid people. They are naturally most active at dawn and dusk. However, in urban environments, they change their schedules to be more active at night.
It’s important to note attacks still have happened but they’re exceptionally rare. In a report from the journal of Human-Wildlife Interactions 367 coyote attacks on people were reported over a 38-year time period in North America. Only two of these attacks were fatal.
Biologists say the best way to prevent coyote attacks is to simply avoid feeding them directly or indirectly.