First it was raccoons, opossums, and the occasional skunk. Then the coyotes came and started chewing up people's cats. Now, reports of bears, mountain lions, and other large mammals in urban areas are rising. As their rural habitat disappears, animals are learning to thrive in cities. LA Times:
"We used to think only little carnivores could live in cities, and even then we thought that they couldn't really achieve large numbers," said urban ecologist Stan Gehrt. "But we're finding that these animals are much more flexible than we gave them credit for and they're adjusting to our cities."
At a symposium Friday at Ohio State University in Columbus, Gehrt described his 12-year effort to track and study almost 700 coyotes living in and around urban areas, including Chicago.
By using radio transmitting collars, Gehrt and his colleagues were able to track the progress of the coyote communities and found that they were thriving amid plentiful food sources. The survival rate of coyote pups in urban areas is five times higher than those of rural pups, he said.
It makes perfect sense. Cities are all about concentrations—density of food and shelter to support larger populations in a smaller amount of space. Why shouldn't other animals get in on that action? As for catching and killing the beasts—it's not working.
"We have great data in areas where removal was done," he said. "You pull them out, and literally within just a few weeks, new coyotes moved in and set up new pack and began reproducing right away."