When I worked at the Ohio DNR, I once heard a wildlife biologist say feral cats were a dietary mainstay of Ohio’s coyotes.
But a recent article in National Parks magazine gave me hope that not all coyotes are feasting on furry felines.
It said national parks ecologists working in Los Angeles have found coyotes living in and around the nation’s second-largest metropolitan area generally eat a variety of things – but not cats. And while occasional coyote attacks on pets (and even people) do happen in L.A., they are not the general rule.
An ecologist following a radio-collared coyote at night saw the animal pass up 15 wayward cats without pouncing on one for a meal.
Ecologists are also examining scat gathered from parks and places where coyotes prowl, hoping to better determine what L.A. coyotes actually eat and where they eat it.
What they learn can be used across the country to limit coyote-human conflicts and help people co-exist with coyotes. The article noted that coyotes now populate the 35 largest cities in the United States.
I admit that western coyotes are different from our eastern variety. And city-dwelling critters probably differ from their country cousins. But some traits are the same in all coyotes.
All are extremely adaptable omnivores with few predators (besides man) to limit their populations. They eat rodents, frogs, human trash, and whatever else is handy.
The L.A. research has already revealed some new information about the solitary canines.
For example, studies revealed most coyotes do not come into the city from surrounding parks or wilderness areas to hunt and feed as most people thought. Instead, they live full-time within busy neighborhoods in the heart of the city where they breed and raise litters. They’ve even learned to cross L.A.’s busy, multi-lane highways with relative safety.
Research also showed many more coyotes live within L.A. than previously thought.
Since it appears coyotes are in the city to stay, National Parks staff urge residents to avoid feeding or encouraging coyotes to lose their natural fear of humans. Covering and securing trash cans is important.
It’s advice everyone should take seriously when dealing with coyotes and all wildlife.