Oct 5, 2012 / 6:49 am
First it was foxes, skunks and raccoons. Now coyotes are setting up shop in increasing numbers within urban settings in North America. Are larger carnivores next?
A professor of wildlife ecology at Ohio State University says urban coyotes, the largest of the mid-size carnivores, may be setting the stage for their larger brethren to start migrating to cities.
"They're the ones that are kind of pushing the envelope right now," Stan Gehrt said, suggesting animals like bears, wolves and mountain lions may be next.
"It used to be rural areas where we would have this challenge of co-existence versus conflict with carnivores," said Gehrt, who gave a talk on the topic Friday at a conference in Columbus, Ohio.
"In the future, and I would say currently, it's cities where we're going to have this intersection between people and carnivores."
In an interview earlier this week, Gehrt suggested cities probably evolved because it was safer for people to live in mass settlements. When people lived in a dispersed fashion "we were prey," he said.
But that freedom from predation also works to the advantage of wild animals, which are pushing into cities in huge numbers. Gehrt described Toronto's raccoon population, for instance, as "humongous", a description no Torontonian would argue with.
While pet owners and home owners in cities have been tussling with skunks and raccoons for years, coyotes have recently made appearances in urban centres far from the open range with which people associate them. "They don't have any predators in the cities," he explained.
Editor: Is there a coyote problem in the Okanagan? Send us your coyote stories and photos to email@example.com
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