Good evening everyone.
Welcome to this fifteenth session of the city's Wildlife Speaker series.
I am very pleased to see many of you made it out here tonight despite the weather forecast very impressive thank you.
My name is Amy McPherson and I work in the city's natural systems and rural affairs unit here at city hall.
Tonight's presentation is being broadcast live on YouTube and we would like to welcome all those who may be listening at home.
For those of us in the room little bit of housekeeping please note that if there is any kind of an emergency.
We have 3 exits in this room.
The one where you came in.
And then there's also 2 doors at the front of the room with the bright red exit signs there.
Also in this room you may notice, we have flags representing the peoples of our Algonquin and Anishanabe host host nation.
We recognize here at the city of Ottawa that is built on the unceded territory of the Algonquin nation.
The people of the Algonquin and Anishanabe nation have lived on this territory for millennia and their culture and presence has nurtured and continue to nurture the city.
We would like to honor the peoples and lands of the Algonquin Anishanabe nation and we would also like to honor all First Nations and Metis people their elders our ancestors and their valuable past and present contributions to this land.
The goal of the speakers is to highlight the co-existence with wildlife by increasing residents understanding of the animals that we share our city with our wild neighbors.
Mutual respect is a key part of co existence particularly where predators and those large animals are concerned.
There's an old saying about good fences making good neighbors.
And in some cases with wildlife that's literally true if you're trying to protect your garden or your livestock.
In other cases it simply means that we need to respect each other's boundaries and personal space.
And for coyotes at this time of year personal space is particularly important.
Our speaker tonight Dr. Stan Gehrt from the Ohio State University will explain what that is in his presentation.
Dr Gehrt was actually our very first speaker in this series back in 2014.
He and his team has been studying coyote populations in Chicago.
In and around the city of Chicago for 20 years now.
It's an extraordinary program of research which has produced incredible insights into how our coyotes have adapted to living in and among our cities and urban suburban and rural settings and we're very pleased to have him here back in Ottawa.
To share his findings he'll address some common misconceptions and help us all understand how to reduce the risk of conflicts with coyotes.
So I'd like you please welcome Dr. Stan Gehrt.
[Dr Stan Gehrt:]
Thanks for having me.
Good evening everyone can hear me okay?
And hopefully the YouTubers can hear this this is a new experience for me as well don't know if I like being live on YouTube.
I'm lucky to be here because I had an issue last last night coming through your customs, I got delayed I got sent to the back room for a couple hours.
It turns out that when I was explaining to them why am coming into our country the person did not think, he did not understand why there would be someone studying coyotes in cities he had never heard of such a thing.
He definitely didn't understand why someone would go to different cities and talk about this stuff.
He also didn't understand why the city of Ottawa would have any interest in having me come and speak about this subject area, so he didn't believe that part and then the final part he didn't believes that even thank time I will be giving a presentation to the general public and he said who would want to hear your give any kind of topic.
So I had no chance at all.
I was a could send him a picture.
So then I did notice he didn't believe anything I told and he did he's told me over and over again he says I don't think you're being forthright and they're being truthful and I did start to think well out there something about me - I may give off this very shady kind of character or something which is kind of disappointing because you like to think of yourself as being very honest looking person and maybe I have the wrong view of myself.
I was thinking about this last night and I thought that will only be talking about a pretty controversial animal, a lightning rod for people's emotions always deal with us every time I talk about this animal there's always some people that really love them a lot of people really don't love them.
I'm gonna be talking about them and just to get this out there I will do everything I'd talk about will be the truth. As far as I know.
I'll be sharing with you results from my research.
And as Amy mentioned I've been very fortunate to be the PI of a long term project is very rare to for any animal and to be able to study them continuously for 2 decades and have that kind of support and we have had that kind of support it's been pretty amazing and I will be sharing with you what the things that we've learned.
Everything I talk about is totally supported by years of data.
In some cases it's more years in other cases it's less if it's a new subject area.
I promise you that that's what I'll be talking about if there's something we don't know I will say we don't know that.
Even from giving up the shady appearance at least the information on the sides as was trustworthy.
What I'm gonna do is start off I need to talk a little bit about the animal itself.
I'm going to test this to see if it works.
We'll talk a little bit about the coyote just a couple characteristics so that we're on the same page.
Every time now I have to give a talk there's always this question about what kind of coyote do we have here.
Definitely up here in the northeast there's a lot of talk about in articles in shows about coywolves or a different kind of coyote that you might have seen.
I have to talk about that first because some of you will be saying well you study coyotes in Chicago what does that have to do with these huge humongous scary animals we have up here.
I'll touch the ultimate first once we understand we're talking about the same animal then I will share with you some things we learned about them in Chicago.
A lot of that will start off with the ecological stuff.
The idea here is the if you understand more about how the animal functions and works, then you can actually understand why certain actions and responses are more effective than others when we talk about the last part which is the actual confilcts we will get the conflicts.
And those often that's why people are here this one coyotes and well how do you get rid of him.
How do I protect my dog.
The we have to go through this other stuff before we can get to that, so you just have to bare with me, but we will get to that.
The coyote is a uniquely north American species it's not found in other parts of the world.
Prior to European colonization that was basically the ancestral range of of coyotes.
They were western species especially a wide open space kind of species, but then in the last 50 to 60 years they've expanded the range to take over most of North America and in fact I haven't updated that slide I've been showing that same side for almost 20 years now and I've cut off parts of Canada there.
In fact I cut of part of my own study area over Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia and Newfoundland definitely have coyotes.
They're found everywhere from the Arctic Circle down.
In fact, in the most recent years they are expanding the range even further.
You think well how can that be, there's not much left, but they just crossed the Panama Canal.
Now there's a whole new kind of environment just waiting for coyotes to come in.
And that'll be an interesting story down south.
That huge expanse of in that range expansion during those decades took place also during the decades where especially in the US we had the greatest amount of predator control and removal taking place.
And more coyotes are killed in any other mamillian predator even though the the targets wolves and mountain lions and bears, more coyotes were killed but unlike those larger kind of animals that were actually exterminated from most of the west, coyotes increased in number.
It's an important lesson there and even today we're still talking about coyotes and that's a current picture.
Over in the US we have a federal agency USDA Wildlife services in charge or is charged with the responsibility of controlling predators for livestock predation.
So they kill about 80,000 coyotes or a little bit more each year that's reported and is probably more that aren't for one reason or another.
In addition to the the the governmental agency that we have, the actual fur harvesting and hunting takes place in most states.
It's year round hunting you can you can kill coyotes any day of the year.
You can you can kills many as you want.
There's for game animal they are the least protected animal in the states.
And of course if your bounties and things like that.
If we just look it pelts that are turned in and you're looking at a little over 300,000 annually but that's not including all the animals that are not turned in terms of pelts it's an underestimate.
These numbers don't include all of the the nuisance kills inadvertent kills and other things and there's thousands of those as well.
Then finally if you combine all those together and you put in a few other finagle factors most people agree that somewhere between 500,000 to 800,000 coytoes are killed every year in North America.
They handle that just fine.
That's no problem for coyotes.
They don't need that kind of, any kind of protection.
That's what's going on in fact I'm not responsible for this estimate I haven't verified it I haven't done the math but it does seem about right that roughly a half a million killed it's about one every minute throughout the year.
That's the kind of pressure that they're experiencing from us on a regular basis and they've been experiencing out for many many decades.
What we've done is we created in an animal that was already well adapted for that kind of persecution even before European colonists came here but we've made it even made them better and they're really good at it.
And it also primed them to be able to exploit new novel environments like cities.
So that's a picture of one of our our urban animals mousing and they're really good at variety of different things but hunting and chasing rodents is actually one of the best things that they do.
That does make up most of their diet across the range including in city's.
But it's a good example I want to show you one of our animals mousing.
This is gonna be just outside of what we call Medieval Times.
That's a restaurant that's a castle and if you've ever heard of Medieval Times but this is the medieval times coyote.
She is mousing across from the parking lot.
I'll start it I want you to know this is an in the middle of winter and when I start this video she's looking for rodents well she's listening for them look at the snow.
The snow's completely undisturbed and then this is what she does.
She can't see anything.
When they're in the mood and when the food is good when it's a good year, that's a vole, that's their favorite rodent, they can take about one vole every 15 minutes or sometimes markets around a wood pile.
That's an urban coyote but they still have those skills they're really good what they do.
They're also the perfect size for having a very broad niche.
If they were smaller say about a fox size they would have to live off of rodents exclusively which is what they're capable of doing many of them do that.
If they were bigger than a coyote, they put wolf size now they have to kill big things and they can't live off of small things for any length of time.
But because of the perfect size energetically, they can live off of a wide range of prey items and they do.
Voles are their favorites.
This is an alpha pair of animals or in our study area in Chicago.
They killed that doe.
The doe is perfectly healthy the 2 of them together took her down and I'm not you those pictures because it's never pretty when canids kill, but they're capable of doing that and this is again and in the Chicago area.
They're doing it to a certain extent here in the northeast as well.
They're nich is even bigger than deer though.
These are actually pictures of another project that I conducted in Cape Breton island in Nova Scotia.
This is a few years ago and we're just starting to publish some papers from that.
That's where there is a series of major conflicts between coyotes and people there.
We did study and we realize we found on Cape Breton island in the island in the national park the primary food item was moose.
That's a picture of me in the winter there with a moose leg.
And that moose that they killed that winter and it's a 900 pound animal.
Usually it's only 2 or 3 of them that's doing it.
They're not packing up like wolves but it's usually about the pair.
They use certain tricks to do it.
I don't have time to go into that.
That's actually a moose that was stuck in the snow they become vulnerable to coyotes that way.
And gray seals never been documented for but they were the attacking gray seals that's a 400 pound seal.
Basically there's a certain technique that they use I'm not going to go into it it's not pretty but it's just an example of how adaptable they are in terms of exploiting new novel food sources such as what what we might see a note in the city.
In a few years ago it was actually a Canadian production company.
That filmed this a documentary and I was in it actually.
They came to Chicago and then I also we're in Nova Scotia for a little bit.
I didn't know, well the title I was originally told was going to be was not that.
After the fact a suit picked up on it with some of the questions but anyway.
This is the documentary that came out.
It really kind of started this process of introducing this term "coy wolves" into the literature and it's been a frustration for us scientists ever since.
The deal about this is that as coyotes expanded the range to the east, they either went south of the Great Lakes or went north of the Great Lakes.
At some point when they went north of the Great Lakes there was an ancestral interbreeding that took place and what came out of the back end was primarily coyotes with a tiny bit of of Algonquin wolf gene.
I don't know I don't mean to be disrespectful but your Algonquin wolves are not very big.
They are on the tiny side.
Even though it's a wolve gene it's a tiny wolf.
Everyone takes a bit makes a big deal out of this first of all that little the the percentage that's wolf is very small and of that, it's a small wolf.
People need to get you know kind of move past full sized thing because it's exaggerated.
That's we call them eastern coyotes.
It turns out that now that there's been some recent genetic work what they found is a basically all coyotes east of the Mississippi all the way down to the southeast of the US have a small amount of wolf DNA and varying degrees of dog DNA.
Your coyotes have a small amount of dogs DNA as well.
The point is is that the coyotes they may have a little bit of this a little bit about but there are all coyotes.
Even our Chicago coyotes.
Our Chicago coyotes are the same size as yours.
How big is it? We're talking about average size is somewhere between for females low thirties, males maybe around mid thirties.
Pounds sorry 14 kilograms something like that 13 or 14 kilograms.
They can get up to the mid forties the largest one I've ever pounds sorry, the largest one I've ever handled was in Chicago was 49 pounds and that was a giant animal.
I had to stand on a chair to weigh him because I couldn't get him off the ground.
The tiniest coyote I've ever for its age the tiniest coyotes I've handled, I've trapped myself and handled, came from that study in Nova Scotia.
Those are supposed to be the big bad eastern kind and it was so small.
The Parks Canada biologist refused to take a picture of me with that.
The point is there's just a lot of size ranges even within a population you can have a big coyotes you can have a little coyotes.
No one ever calls me and tells me "I saw the tiniest coyotes I've ever seen".
Real quick if you wanna see what it looks like it's the Mississippi River that section of the division here.
Coyotes to the east of the Mississippi River are the ones that have varying degrees of a small percentage of wolf or dog or both.
Including our Chicago animals.
In terms of size you won't be able to see this very well, you don't really need to.
These are actually average weights of coyotes taken from different parts of the continent including Canada and I just have them structured by region and you don't have to see the individual ones, just note that it is true that the northeast does have on average, heavier larger coyotes and then they get much smaller when you go to the southwest that's true.
It's mixed up in its there's a lot of overlap between the midwestern kind it's again does that are east of the Mississippi and your northeast.
In fact my Chicago animals are not in there yet.
I'll put them in right now.
They're on the left hand side there in the following on right along pretty nicely with your northeastern coyotes.
They're about the same size.
We're talking about the same animal, but ecologically they may function differently depending on what's available to them.
They can be doing different things but it's still basically the same animal.
As they expanded the range then moved down that and filled up every gap on the eastern part of North America and now they're filling in the last remaining gap and that would be the urban cities.
This is a relatively new phenomenon for parts of of North America.
From the central part to the eastern part it's not that new in the southwest.
That's what we're focusing on.
This is Chicago and I'm not going to go through all these but as Amy mentioned we've been conducting this research for the last 20 years and we're addressing a wide range of different questions and we have been for quite awhile.
Some are older some are newer and you won't be able see these but population dynamics, their space use, their parasite or disease dynamics, their diet is a really important component I'll talk about that in a second and their social structure we'll talk about that because that's actually related to some of the conflicts that you have especially this time of year.
The ecological role - how do they affect other species.
Then the population genetics and finally the newest thing that we're focusing on now what's hopefully I'll have a little bit of time at that and to get to it we'll see 5 time it's been a real syndromes and whey I say behavioral syndromes I'm talking about personalities.
We're trying to measure personalities of individual coyotes.
The ideas is that the personality is actually genetically determined type of behavior and the idea or the question is do cities tend to select for a certain kind of personality and over time you start to see more of the of a certain kind of personality than another? That's what we're trying to do right now.
These questions are kind of the basic ones and we want to know how to coyotes live in the cities? How do they do that? And what does that mean for us when they do? What's the risk for people and pets and then the the co existence versus conflict how much of it's about is actually taking place?
If we have time, another part that we've been focusing on quite a bit it's not just the risk that they pose for us but also what benefits to the pose.
No one really talks about that and part of it is that it's a sad fact that for many mammilian predators, the funding that's available to do work on them is driven by conflict.
It's very it's very hard to get funding to look at the ecological role that a predator.
It's a little better for the charismatic species like the loans to lesser extent wolves but for something like a coyote it's not that charismatic it's hard to get funding to look at the ecological role or the potential services are provided.
But we have been doing that.
My funding agencies allowed me to diverge a little bit here there and over the years we've chipped away at it and maybe I'll be able to maybe touch on a little bit tonight if you let me.
How do we do our work?
We live trap the animals we used to stand the same kind of techniques that the fur trappers use.
The same kind of traps.
They are modified to reduce any potential injuries to the animals.
We take them to the lab and we measure of a variety of things.
This is an animal in a trap about to be processed.
We we take them out of the the area that's a thing that you have to do in urban settings because it can't process an animal out in in basically an open lab.
Up there we take them in, we measure them, weigh them.
That's my team and I'm about to get a fecal sample.
You'll notice that I'm at the proper end of the animal.
There's certain advantages to being in charge and that's one of them.
That's an animal getting measured and we look at the teeth.
The teeth tells a lot about the animal we can look at their health but also their age and and how well they're doing.
Another animal getting processed.
That one 's about to be released I would put a radio collar on them.
The radio collars basically open up a window into their life so that we can follow them but we can also document their survival in the mortality as well.
We tracked in a variety of different ways but old standbys still the one that we spend most of our time doing which is that's a VHF collar.
There's a team of people the track these animals day and night every week of the year.
We know a lot about how these animals move and now we also use GPS collar.
So satellites are tracking a subset of the animals.
Those in those collars are expensive in the data or expensive taking late though you will repent those we put those on animals that are downtown.
There is one I was jealous my team caught a beautiful male this morning and he is in a prime spot, right on the edge of the north and northwest side of Chicago.
Anyway that's the name of the get the GPS collars.
And then in addition to marking the adults, and we also go into the dens.
Coyotes are seasonal breeders and they only produce a single letter and it's always in the spring and late April and throughout most of May.
We're going into the dens once for each litter and micro chipping the the pups.
We do that for a variety of reasons.
One is to look at the reproductive rate of the population because coyotes scale their reproduction based off of resources as well as their own population densities.
We also are curious about the social structure and mating system I'll talk more about that and second.
That looks like a really nice scenic natural setting for them to raise a litter.
If we turn the camera to the side, then that's what we see and they're actually raising letters within just a few meters of of people.
This is actually the most challenging thing for coyotes to do in an urban area is to raise a litter.
It's when they’re the most vulnerable.
Coyotes are never tied to a single point in space if they're healthy.
They don't use dens themselves unless they are hurt.
This is the one time and this is when they are most vulnerable.
It's also where you also tend to get a lot of conflicts too.
We'll talk about that a little bit later.
Here's just a few examples of pups just because a really cute.
This is just outside of O'Hare.
It's an industrial setting with those cement things.
That litter was horrible to try to get to.
We were literally calling through the concrete after these pups.
They always have their litters at the mid to late April.
Usually April is the prime months to some more urban pups and we we do a lot of things with them as well this is your typical 4 week old pup their eyes have been turned yellow yet and they haven't really devote their not expressing personalities are easy to handle.
At 5 weeks that's a 5 week old are beginning to look more like a coyote in their eyes are beginning to change this is another 5 week old.
Personalities are starting to be expressed by these guys within the letter you start to see some some bold and some side individuals and then that's a 6 week old pup and now it will look like a coyote.
At that age then they're going to be taken out of the den or they will themselves enough they'll begin following the parents about at that point and they will come back to the den after that that's it's 6 week window where they're really venerable and once they get to that stage I can't wait to get away from there.
Where are the parents? they're around they're definitely around and it just depends on which parents
you're talking about so some of them are more bold and so they will be standing there barking and pacing what we're what we're doing that most of the parents though, they're there just circling around but you don't see them.
but they are there you can hear them on the receiver on we can hear them because they're out there, we know that they're watching us but we can't see them.
They don't ever come after us no.
A good question.
In addition to all that I'm not gonna have time to really swing into this with the other little thing that we do, that you may or may not see everyone's on a program this these pop up every now and then we have collaborated with National Geographic.
And they send an engineer when you're to develop the special critter can put under the neck that tracks their face.
So where they are looking then they can we can see what they're saying what they're doing and.
This is what we're looking at.
This is a camera it's hanging down just below the chin of a female as she's walking.
It kind of allowed us to see certain parts of the coyote's life that you wouldn't be able to see and it's actually been kind of interesting and you know I won't be able to show you much of this but you will see these every once a while.
We have the National Geographic stamp on there.
We basically are able to
Again, we recorded those and then we send another National Geographic and they pick and choose what they want to use.
You'll see her snout coming down from above.
I will fast forward those for just a second.
But can do this.
Sorry I won't be able to do that but anyway, you get the the feeling here in terms of what we're able to do.
One of the cool things about this and we I'm not going to wait to get the service but we can separate scavenging from predation.
In this case in this video clip she'll eventually come across a bird and if you're using scat analysis for stomach content analysis to look at diet, bird would show up there and you would think you think because he killed a bird but they don't they're actually scavenging.
In this case is she finds a dead bird and then she procededs, this little songbird, she takes about 30 minutes to eat 1 leg.
She has to take every further off the bird.
We were laughing.
We're watching this is like ours is the serious? Is she really gonna pluck every feather off?
When it comes to birds they're really picky.
Now you'll notice that on that rodent, that vole, they don't care.
The whole thing goes down, but beacause it's a bird, they have to take every little thing off.
We're learning in a kind of useless things like that too.
This is where we're at.
We actually the animal that we caught this morning, I believe that was number 1290.
We're almost at the third of the 1300 coyotes that we captured and marked so far.
A large portion of those are the pups from this litter, but we've also captured a lot of the adults.
It's a massive study.
Then there are a couple couple dogs and a couple of people unfortunately.
That's just working in urban areas.
Real quick, some details.
Even though you often see coyotes alone they are a packed animal.
They do live together in groups it's just that they don't spend a lot of time together.
The howling that you hear is actually really important in terms of maintaining the social cohesion of an animal that often is not able to see each other.
It's the territorial defense is probably the most important aspect of them then living together in groups they rarely come together as a group.
They are territorial.
This is an example of what we do.
Those red dots and those yellow dots, are the locations of an alpha male.
He's the dominant male of a group living and in a park on the northwest side of Chicago.
In the yellow locations are daytime and the red are night time and that that doesn't really matter.
I just want to see that just looking at it even from a distance it's really easy to see the delineation of their territory.
I mean they basically draw out for us.
That's how I guess faithful they are to their sites.
They patrol those edges.
Those that just happened to correspond with roads and it turns out in urban areas in particular, they use the roads to find those boundaries.
They also do the same thing on the country, although, in some cases it might be a road or also might be a fence line or it could be a stream or creek.
They're using features of the landscape took took mark and maintain their boundaries.
In this case roads are not a barrier for them at all physically, that male he could easily cross those roads, he could easily across them anytime of the day.
There's another reason why he doesn't.
For the most part is because of other coyotes.
Those red dots up there are his locations.
Then if we look to the south those yellow dots are the locations of an alpha individual of the neighboring pack.
Then if we move over to the east, then those blue dots are the locations of an alpha animal over to the east, and they're all using the same roads for those boundaries.
It's also the social boundary that's keeping them from crossing the road.
It's not the difficulty of crossing on the road.
That's one part of the of the population.
That's the groups and that's the territorialism and they basically behave a lot like us.
You can't see it because we're up to high, but those are subdivisions are are communities that are adjacent or even within those territories.
In each one of those communities you have a house and have a yard.
Then those are all marked by property lines to varying degrees.
They're just doing the same things we do is just bigger.
Those are the territorial boundaries like I said they do it for us.
The another example this is within a large park.
They have increased in size.
The population in abundance.
How they do that often give up parts their territory to their adult offspring.
There's only one breeding pair in a group.
That's the the parents.
The other members of the group or their offspring and as they become sexually mature, then they have to leave.
These dots represent the mother and the son of the pack early in our study and at that time there were clearly together and they were sharing that territory.
The father was there as well.
Then after a year or so, another pack took over part of their territory and he became sexually mature.
He took over little tiny part of the original territory, his mom took over the the the northern part.
They separated and then eventually he basically lived, to became an alpha male, he lived in that area it's about 1 square kilometers for over a decade.
He had a single mate and they produce a variety of different litters and eventually his offspring became alphas in different parts of that same park.
Today, we actually have seven packs.
Of the 7 packs 5 of them are from his offspring.
Each one of those colors represents another pack.
Originally the park was one single pack.
Now again we have 7.
This is another picture of the most recent grouping so, again even when they're really packed together like this, even when the densities are super high they still maintain their territorialism.
Even when the neighbors are their relatives they still maintain their territorialism.
It's a very strong feature of the behavior.
Not each dot.
The dots represent the location of that animal.
The color represents an animal.
That color represents 3 to 5 individuals, that's their territory.
If you're looking at 7 colors are you looking at 35 minimum coyotes and that's not counting pups.
There's actually 60 to 70 coyotes in there.
Real quick, howling is one of the ways that maintain these territories as well as marking.
They spend a lot of time doing that marking and I won't go into all the details about how, but we've actually done a lot of research on that.
Not all coyotes howl at the same rate and other howling bouts actually kind of, they sounds chaotic, but they're actually pretty ordered.
There's certain types of communication that are transferring, but I'm not gonna go into that.
This time of year is actually really important to them.
This is a big month for coyotes.
Here's a alpha pair, they are actually tied.
They're just like dogs.
I don't know if you've had the good fortune or misfortune depending on how you look at having a dog mate, well they get tied together and that's what's happening here.
The do have another thing in common with us, in addition to the territorialism they become romantic at the same time that we do.
It turns out that this part of North America their mating area peaks right around February 14.
And I told you, I'm only telling you facts.
I'm not making things up.
It's not just a bad joke.
That's actually the truth.
But their hormone levels begin increasing in preparing for this event weeks in advance.
They actually start for the males, will start in December.
Testosterone levels will start to build up and they'll start producing sperm in January in preparation for the female coming into estrus.
Female, her hormone levels are sifting altering quite a bit.
She's only going to become, like a dog, only come into estrous for a few days.
And that's it, that's it for the mating.
At other times of the year after the done, hormone levels drop and they can't mate even if they're in the mood.
This is it.
It's a really important time.
This is one reason why they're extremely territorial and you may have a an increase in some conflicts.
A characteristic of the dog family is that they are behaviourally monogamous.
Monogamy is not common in the mammilian world.
Most mammals are not monogamous at all.
They want to try may with as many partners as possible.
The Canaanites, the wolves, the coyotes and the foxes are behaviorally monogamous.
It turns out that when, just like with birds which also be heavily monogamous, once geneticists started testing one they find all kinds of cheating going on.
Actually the monogamy becomes even more rare once the geneticists get into it.
No one had looked at coyotes.
They looked at foxes and they looked at wolves and ensuring there are plenty of cheating that goes on with those.
Foxes as are the worst.
If you want to look at it that way.
The highest levels of cheating goes on with especially red foxes.
They're just crazy.
I just showed you maps of our animals and that's just one example across Chicago.
We're seeing these territories just packed right next to each other and we also solitary animals that are floating through.
There's all kinds of opportunities to cheat.
I mean if they want to have multiple partners they don't have to go very far.
We expected to find, just like every other study has found for monogamous species, to find cheating going on and we thought that this is a perfect test.
That's not what we found.
It's the largest genetic studies been done for coyotes and in fact for canines in general.
There's an alpha pair we happen to catch them together.
It is quite common touch to catch a pair at the same time because they don't want to leave each other.
One of them gets caught the other one stays and often gets caught as well or they're there when we when we show up.
They can actually ride in the same cage together because they're so tight.
what we found, we genotyped almost 900 animals.
It's a really huge sample.
Over 300 have been genotyped.
and of those three-hundred pups, it makes up almost 70 litters.
That was over a year ago.
We're even above that now.
This would be about an 18 year period.
What we found was that of all of that, we found no evidence of any kind of cheating, no what we call extra pair parentage at all.
We also found that the longest mate pair was over a decade long.
In fact, we never documented a divorce.
We still haven't documented divorce.
There's no voluntary separation of an alpha pair.
Only when one of them dies will one take on another mate.
What does that mean to me? It's a pretty fascinating thing, and this is not a major objective of our research, it is not what we're getting funded, I have to be careful about how much time you spend on this but just think about the vast majority of the animals that we've monitored are only going to mate with one animal in their life.
One animal in their life.
That means that you better be really careful about who you pick.
There must be some major mate selection going on but we have no idea what they're doing.
I have no idea.
They could be random.
We do know that they're not related.
We've only document of one alpha pair that shared a relatedness with each other.
All the rest of them are the only unrelated individuals in the pack.
They do avoid that to some extent.
They also occasionally will adopt.
Here's an example of den sharing where the alpha pair somehow ended up with other pups in their den.
So it's still monogamy they were actually the parents of the little tiny pups.
Actually four the little ones and three of the bigger ones.
We've documented that occurring at least three different times now.
They have a really strong parenting instinct both the female and the male.
Very strong parenting instincts.
It's not surprising that they would readily take on another pup if they didn't realize
it's not their own.
I mentioned that they can scale the reproduction based on resources, so this is an example.
This is very typical of our litters in Chicago.
You'll find this is typical in many cities where resources are really abundant.
So that's a litter of 11 pups.
Again genetically tested so they're all coming from a single female and a single male.
That's an example of what a monogamous species can do.
The female doesn't have to raise all those completely by herself, the male's helping.
In fact the subordinates are helping as well.
If they weren't monogamous, so for example if you look at a litter of raccoons or a litter of Bobcats, those are solitary animals the male provides no help, subordinates provide no help.
Their litter sizes are small.
Four animals typically for a cat, for a bobcat, four to five would be typical for a raccoon.
It's only what the mother or herself can raise because they're monogamous they can actually pull off huge litters.
And that's one reason why we haven't been able to exterminate them.
Finally before I move on, we have the different colors.
So I mentioned that we have a little bit of mix of a tiny bit of wolf and dog because they can interbreed so they share the same number of chromosomes.
This is from our litter these are all related they're all littermates, they have the same parents but you see a striking difference in coloration.
Brindle pups in that particular one.
The male was brindle he's the only brindle we've had that that's a sign of the historic or ancestral breeding with dogs with that dark color.
It's been rare.
That was one of the few examples that we have.
The question would be why don't we have more coy dogs? or that hybrid between coyotes and dogs in a city that has in our case we have over 300,000 dogs just in Cook County alone?
Why wouldn't that be more common?
Well there are reasons why we don't.
In the US and in Canada as well I mean most of your dogs are fixed in the cities.
The physical differences in some breeds and coyotes will prevent all that kind of breeding.
It's just hard for some breeds they're just too tiny or whatever.
Then dogs with owners are not free-ranging so the coyotes for the most part are going to avoid dogs with people.
The biggest thing is the dogs are not seasonal breeders.
Dogs come into heat at any time of the year.
I mentioned coyotes are only physically able to make during a very small window.
It has to be time just perfectly.
There's other reasons the hybrids are less vigorous, the sperm and they're asynchronized so they actually come into breeding condition out of season.
That's another kind of barrier between them.
Then I'd like to say that coyotes have standards.
So we just talked about that.
I showed you parks and these animals being territorial in parks, they're not restricted to parks, so they also live out in the developed areas.
These are packs living among people.
You'll notice the way that they use them a lot different so there's gaps and so they're trying to use every bit of green space that can find, and avoiding the areas that are used by people as much as possible.
That's what you see in other parts of the landscape.
This is what it looks like at night.
For them to be able to get from green space or green space, they have to become nocturnal.
This is one of our coyotes 571 who lives in a completely developed are or she did.
This is just her at night trying to avoid people as much as possible.
I'd like to show this because most of these people have no idea about the coyote in the neighborhood.
These people are actually inadvertently feeding the coyote with food on the front porch and I don't know if you can see but that's a cat staring at that coyote.
So the cat knows there's a coyote there but the people don't.
So this is what we see every night.
This is an example of coyotes avoiding people.
They've restricted their activity to night which they don't normally do in rural areas and then even at night they're trying to avoid people as much as possible.
Like what she's going to do here.
This is coyote number one.
This is me recapturing her ten years later.
She started the project off in March of 2000 and fortunately just by fluke, she also happens to be one of the longest living pilots in our study.
We've followed her throughout her whole life for almost 12 years.
This is me.
It was darn hard to recapture her by the way.
The point why I'm picking her out, besides the fact that she was very long lived, is this is where she lived she lived among people for over a decade.
Those pink dots are her locations during about six months of the last year of her life and that's again the community that she lived on for over a decade.
She had one mate in her life.
That's her mate.
He's affectionately called melon head, or he was, because he have this big head.
They had a variety they had eight different litters and so they produced about 70 pups between the two of them, all living among other people.
These are his purple locations.
You can see that they are perfectly lined up they were always together and then she died of natural causes,she had kidney failure and then he he upgraded and got a younger mate.
He was able to get one more litter out before he also died of natural causes too.
This is him during his last year of life.
That's a 12 year old coyote.
You don't see 12 year old coyotes in the natural world very often.
This is after he had lost his mate he was just, he had just taken on new one.
This is another Canadian film crew.
This is a videographer that set up a blind.
He's actually living in a marsh right behind a Walmart.
It looks like a natural area but that's a Walmart.
He wanted to film one of our animals I said well this guy is living in a marsh completely surrounded by people so just set up your blind and should be able to get him.
So, he's set up his blind and that's the first morning at 6 o'clock in the morning he was still setting up his camera and he realized, he looked up when that film started that was the start of his filming because Melon Head was already staring at him.
He already knew he was there.
This is his reaction.
I just I'm spending valuable time on this to point out that one of the things that we've been looking at over the years is: are these animals that have been living among people year after year after year, raising litters year after year after year, are they losing the fear of people?
He's an example of an animal that never did.
I mean he's passed now, but he never lost his fear.
His pups all grew up and never showed a change.
Some of them do.
It's more because of feeding so if they're not getting fed, it is possible for them to live among people without conflicts.
Finally I'm moving downtown.
I've been out in suburbs now we're gonna move into this urban core.
This is the last phase the last six years and what we've reallybeen focusing on because no one had done any work on coyotes in the urban core of a major metropolitan area.
This is the same Chicago area at night and you can see just visually I like it because you can see that the urban core, the downtown area, is you could argue that the ecosystem is different there than it is in the suburbs.
Maybe the Coyotes, maybe they can't even live there or if they are living there are they doing something completely different.
We moved down there it was very hard to do and we're still doing that.
I mentioned that guy that we caught this morning is on the north side of Chicago.
Here's an example of the map.
If we move over to the right that's when we're moving into the urban core.
Those are territories of those super urban coyotes and this is what it looks like.
Just zooming in for some of those packs.
Some of those alpha animals.
They still maintain their territorialism but the way that they move through the landscape becomes even more linear.
I could imagine that it's a place like Ottawa you have some nice linear features to it that might move quite a bit similarly.
This is the territory of coyote 748 one of our super urban animals.
They actually raised a litter right across from Soldier Field, this NFL stadium.
That little picture of that coyote that's on top of the parking garage across from the stadium and the Sears Tower is in the background.
They raised a litter on top of that parking garage.
It's just an example of how adaptable they are.
In terms of survival rates I'm not going to go exactly into all these numbers, but in general your your typical urban coyote, because they're not hunted and trapped in cities, immediately experiences a higher survival rate.
For our animals that annual s represents the proportion of animals that survive a year and so it's somewhere between 60 and 70% for coytoes that's a huge number.
If you were out in the country, in say the the Midwestern U.
We have hunting and trapping, the survival rate is 33% so it's half of what our adults are.
Then if you go down to the bottom, our pups the survival rate of pups is about 60% during the course of the year.
In a rural environment or they exposed to hunting and trapping it's only 13% only 13% so you can imagine that life is really good for coyotes in an urban setting.
One of the reasons why they have such a high survival rate is that they learn how to cross roads.
I'm not going to go into all the details about how we analyze that, but we can actually model that.
We can actually calculate the risk that each coyote has in terms of being hit by a car.
For example, those polygons are packs they're living just outside of O'Hare.
If we overlay the road system, you can see the different packs have a different number of roads that they might have to cross as they're going through their territory.
So you would imagine that they have different levels of risk or different probability of getting hit by a car.
I can tell you that not only for these animals but across Chicagoland, they all have the exactly the same probability of getting hit which is low.
It doesn't matter how many roads that have in their territory, it doesn't matter what their traffic volumes are, they scale their ability to move across roads based on risk.
They all have the same level of risk.
Here's an example of one of those uber urban animals crossing roads.
This is at night because they have to be nocturnal.
This is our Lincoln Park animal and they have to use the sidewalks and the roads just like we do.
This is her going down one of the sidewalks and in just a second she's gonna cross the road in front of us.
This is a just one block off of a major thoroughfare.
There's not much traffic here so this is not this is not too exciting.
She can easily move across and not worry about traffic here, but the next frame, so there she moved in front of us the next frame.
She's going to actually move across a very busy road this is just off of Lakeshore Drive.
To do that it's just going to take a different approach.
Here she's been across the road she's gonna move over to the sidewalk actually, approaches that street and you may or may not be able to see this but there's the traffic's coming from one direction as she approaches that stop sign she's looking to the left in the direction of the oncoming traffic.
In this case, the traffic is a constant flow so she saw a gap and so she shot across immediately.
She did not hesitate.
I'm gonna show you a different strategy.
This is the same animal same night a different part of our territory.
You're gonna see a guy passing us on a bicycle.
He's staring at us because of we have a big antenna coming off the top of our truck.
Right behind him is her she's been sitting there watching the traffic and she waited until it was stopped at the light.
Then she could cross on her own.
That's the same animal you just saw using a completely different strategy for a different road.
Where there's stoplights she knows she doesn't have to hurry across she just has to wait at the corner just like all of us, so they do learn how to do this.
Real quick on diet.
I showed you at the very beginning that rodents make a large part of our or their diet.
That's true pretty much everywhere.
That's the stomach content from a single coyote in our area.
It's nine rodents.
That's a big part but our big question is human foods: like how much are they relying on us for their food both in terms of our refuse as well as for our pets?
There's a variety of different techniques for doing that.
We're the first study to actually use a technique called unstable isotopes.
What we can do is we can snip a whisker from their muzzle, one whisker and we can section that whisker into little sections and we could analyze each one of those little sections for their diet.
By doing that we can actually look at an individual animal where we know their age, their sex, their size, their condition and we can follow their diet through the length the window of time that takes to grow that whisker.
We can look at each section to see if it's recent diet or old diet.
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here, but it turns out that we look at carbon and nitrogen (carbon is on the x-axis) that's the important one because our human foods are all carbon-based.
More specifically it's corn based.
That's a different signature than natural foods for them.
Those gray circles are their food items and where they show up on the isotopes and what we wanted to see our human foods different on that x-axis then the natural foods.
It turns out all of those great things over on the left that's all natural food.
Then what's over on the right is all human food or pets.
That polygons up on the top are pets.
Those little colored dots scattered around there are individual coyotes.
Where they fall out on that landscape reflects what their general on diet item was.
Now that's just pooled across their segments.
So, there's more detail there, but the point is is that we show that there are some coyotes that
are using human foods, some of them are on the right-hand side of that line, that line that goes down the middle is what we call the anthropogenic line or the human food line.
There are some coyotes that are eating over there but many of them, the majority, are still eating natural foods even in the most urban parts.
These are the urban animals the ones that are really downtown and you can see that there's a huge range.
Some of them are eating human foods others are eating natural foods.
You'll see up at the top rats.
None of them are eating rats.
We have yet to document a single coyote eating a city rat.
We wish they would but they don't and it's actually it's probably pretty smart for them because there's a huge rodenticide program in Chicago to poison rats.
It's probably a good move on their part.
I just want to point out a couple of quick things.
These are two animals 740 and 748.
You actually saw one of them, 748, he's a super urban one that was raising the litter on top of the garage.
His diet is almost exclusively rabbit.
He has a completely urban, the most urban, territory you can have and yet his food is almost completely rabbit.
On the other hand you have 740 over on the right-hand side his diet is basically human or pretty close to human.
That's 740 and I caught him in a cemetery and I've shown you all these maps or all these extensive movements that these animals have made.
He got one of those really expensive $5,000 GPS collars because we thought he would be moving through the city.
This is just on the north side of the city and it turns out that he never left the cemetery.
So that's like thousands of dollars spent all in that cemetery.
The reason and this is really important, the reason was that he's getting food.
He was getting fed by two little old ladies that adopted him and they put food out for him every day they honked their horn and he eventually will come out and eat, but he's also never lost his fear of people surprisingly.
That's what happens if you feed them you change their movement patterns and all of a sudden they are focused in a certain area thought they were not necessarily focused in before.
That's an example of that this is 740 again he's the one eating rabbits in a completely urban environment.
So you can't predict necessarily what their diet is depending on where they are.
Let me see.
Here's an example of some of that urban life.
Here's an alpha pair.
That's the metro train and that makes up the boundary for their territory.
That coyote in there is actually one of the Alpha pairs and they're marking.
That's this time of year and so that's the, yeah, the female is marking.
She's the heavier one and then the male is gonna come and mark on top of her just to give you an example of again the monogamy is expressed in terms of really tight bond.
So he's going to mark on top.
Right off of the metro.
Let me see.
This another alpha pair this is over by Lincoln Park.
You'll see one of them she's actually taking a poop right on the street and the mate is in the background.
They're actually, they're marking on the roads just like they're traveling and that's how they maintain their territorialism.
And among people.
Again that's also at night.
Then one last one and then here.
They have been getting fed by people so this is if.
We have to pick one.
I'm going to transition to conflicts real quick.
If we have to pick one particular item that is most important in terms of contributing to conflicts between coytoes and people its food.
In some cases it's people that are intentionally feeding coyotes and in other cases it's unintentional feeding.
So this will be unintentional.
This is one of our favorite coyotes going to get fed by people inadvertently this is at night.
It looks like daytime, but that's an example of inadvertently feeding them.
What happens is that when they're fed, then they change their behavior.
If it's, if it takes place over and over again they will start seeing people in places as sources of food as opposed to something to avoid terms of conflicts.
Through 2018 less than four percent of our animals generated any complaints whatsoever.
So it means 96 percent of them are living among people and doing what they're doing without even getting a complaint.
Generally a complaint in most cases it was just simply being seen at the wrong place at the wrong time.
We've only only 1% actually created a severe conflict like attacking a dog so it's pretty rare.
They do take cats.
This is your classic case of maybe a coyote living in a neighborhood is when a cats go missing.
I don't have time to talk about much we did a massive cat study and I was telling someone earlier it's a more complicated than that cats are actually pretty smart and they actually figured out where coyotes are if they're outside a lot if they're indoor/outdoor cats they don't have an opportunity to.
Kind of what's going on with coyotes.
So they're a bit more vulnerable.
The more important conflicts start with dogs.
This is the time of year when we do see a spike in coyote attacks on dogs.
Medium to large sized dogs, generally, are not hurt that badly either usually or nicked up a little bit if it happens.
Most of time it's not.
So what we found is that they're not using dogs as food.
They're basically, their instinct is to remove a competitor so if this is a natural environment coyotes definitely kill foxes or they remove foxes because they're competitors, not because of food.
It could be defensive.
Sometimes dogs attack coyotes and so you can have a conflict there.
Then again it's rarely for food.
This is the seasonality of the coyote attacks on dogs.
There's a big spike in February.
There's another little spike in April.
We have litters and then there's a drop-off, and then it starts increasing again in the winter.
This is the time again when there are territorial instincts are the strongest.
Here's a quick list of some of the breeds in Chicago that have been attacked by coyotes and the numbers reflect, I think it was a 16 year period. where they documented these.
What I want you to notice is that the smaller dogs tend to be more frequent especially small noisy dogs like the Shih Tzu's and the terriers.
It's not restricted to small dogs.
There are some large breeds up there.
There can be under certain circumstances a larger dog being attacked by a coyote as well.
In the most extreme form of conflict is when they attack people and it's rare when it happens though it does happen.
This is actually data that we analyzed a few years ago on a paper and we're again as they move into cities you get to see a bit more of a higher frequency of attacks on on people.
In most cases are very minor but there have been a few cases of more serious attacks.
Coyotes bite people for a wide range of reasons.
What we found there some of them are because of rabies.
There was a recent rabies case in the States over in New Hampshire that was a coyote attacked three different people, that it was infected with raccoon strain of rabies.
It can be pet related, so it often what happens in fact this happened over in Chicago last year there's a altercation between a dog and a coyote and the owner tries to protect the dog and gets bitten.
There's predatory so that is unprovoked attack on a usually small child, so there are predatory attacks and then there's one called investigator that we came up with we didn't know what to call it these are cases where the coyote and the person seemed to be mutually surprised when they getting up.
They're always minor and usually it's when the person is lying on the ground asleep.
So they're lying on the ground asleep and the coyote comes along and bites them and they wake up and it scares the crap out of both of them.
There's a wide range of reasons why my coyotes might bite someone, it's not always the same.
In terms of preventing this again food is one of the biggest issues.
Pet management is a big one so especially this time of year.
You want to keep pets on leash, especially if you're walking them around green spaces.
At least have them in view of you so that you can scare coyotes off if they happen to to be in the picture.
If they are a small dog you can always, if there's a coyote around, you can pick up your dog and and walk away.
Hazing is always a good idea.
Hazing is is basically acting large toward the animal.
Not running away.
That's the opposite of hazing.
Yelling at them, shaking, we've used coffee cans filled with rocks or other things to scare a coyote away.
And then finally, this is an example of what happens when people feed coyotes.
That coyote, that is Justin my former grad student, he caught this coyote in this little marsh surrounded by a subdivision.
So you know what these maps are now, but those green dots are her locations over a one-year period.
Just look, there were no conflicts with her she avoided people's yards in fact none of those yards had any fences but she was doing everything she could to avoid people's yards for a year.
The only complaints about the Coyotes, and she was one member of a pack that was living in that Marsh, the only complaints was the noise they were making.
Because they howled.
So that was the biggest complaint.
She left that area.
Floated as a transient across the landscape and eventually settled in his cul-de-sac in a community.
Those red locations are just to her floating around and then she eventually settled down here.
So why did she settle down there?
It turns out that but there's a sequence of three houses that were all feeding wildlife.
I mean putting a lot of food out.
So that's a picture of her I'm taking a piece of bread they're putting out bread for raccoons.
This is actually, prior to this when she lived in that marsh without any conflicts, she was exclusively nocturnal and she avoided yards that's why there were no conflicts, but once she became older and she moved into this area where they're feeding animals she completely changed her behavior and now she became a nuisance animal.
She was never aggressive, but she began to see their yards as a source of food so she spent all of her time around their yards and she became diurnal, she became active during the day.
So they wanted to have her removed.
So as an example of how feeding can change the behavior of an animal and it goes from an an animal that totally avoided a people and all conflicts with them, to now all of a sudden it's taking the first steps toward conflict.
Feeding is, if you have to point to one thing, that's one of the most important things.
One that we have control over, so we can influence how much time coyotes spend in certain areas.
How much time do they spend, how close do they come to us and how do they behave toward us.
Those are all things that we can control.
Managing the pets.
The harassment coyotes.
This is just another video.
I'm going back to that critter cam.
This is a cemetery that had a, they closely regulated or they thought, wildlife feeding in that cemetery.
In other words they had signage telling people not to do that and when we went, I talke to the cemetery director I asked if we could trap and put up a critter cam on a coyote, she said absolutely we'd love to be able to see that.
She assured me there was no feeding going on in that cemetery.
The very first thing that we saw once we put that camera on an animal was that animal going to a spot that had dog food.
So they were doing everything they could, but there's a lot of feeding that takes place.
In this case it's intentional so that's, those are people are intentionally feeding coyotes.
That contributes to the conflicts.
When you do have an animal that becomes aggressive, often their only solution really it's to lethally remove it.
We definitely recommend that if they they're showing a repeated pattern of a lack of fear of people and they haven't bitten anyone.
They should think about possibly removing it.
If they've bitten someone then they should definitely be removed we don't we don't there's no data no one's ever done a study to see if you can change an animal's behavior once they've gotten to the point where they attack someone.
No one wants to do that study.
Really quick, the bottom line here the coyotes are successful in cities, in spite of us, so no one introduced coyotes in the cities, no one's protected coyotes in cities, so they've come in.
In fact in Chicago and like every other city when they first appeared every municipality tried to get rid of them and all they did was succeed in being able to stay anyway.
So there it's just successful in spite of us but their ability to live with us relies on they're maintaining a certain level of fear.
We have to be able to maintain that fear and the public actually has a lot of have influence over that.
So as I mentioned, this is, we've had of a lot of support.
These are the short list of some of the people involved if you are interested in more information.
That's our website urbancoyotesearch.
So a lot of the stuff that I've talked about is even is there on even more detail.
At that it's that time I'll take questions.
If you want me to.
I know it's late.
yeah I mean it is almost 20 after 9:00, but if we have a couple of questions that I can well just see if we can get the microphone.
Right, so the question you're noticing the size of area that we reported you know it varies quite a bit.
It depends on where they are in the landscape.
Those downtown animals need more space, the ones that are in the really high high quality habitats in the suburbs need very little space, but we're still there's pushing the boundaries on how much, how little space can they get by on.
We're already exceeding in terms of the smallness of their territories anything that's been published in the literature.
So we have some that are living in an area that's less than one square kilometer in size.
That's a full pack raising litters.
That's the bare minimum there.
That's a high quality habitat.
Those urban animals what we've discovered is that if you just look at the usable space the green space within those highly urbanized sites it actually the it accumulates.
If you just look at that you measure out it ends up being about the same amount of space so it looks like there may be a minimum threshold for them, but again it's influenced by whether or not they're getting any human food or not.
Human food can make them shrink even further like that guy in the cemetery.
A few days ago a friend of mine told me about an episode with his labrador dog he let it out and there in a little green space and the dog didn't come back.
He went to find out what was going on and there were two coyotes standing over his dead body.
So they got a Labrador.
I didn't see a Labrador up when you're on your list there.
Just to comment about you're crossing the border episode.
I had the same problem going the other way and you know what I really think they're interested in.
But the one thing you don't say is I'm giving a talk because they're interested in how much money you're getting.
They think you're Barack Obama or somebody, you're getting three hundred thousand bucks and at least that's what that was my impression on the American side.
[Dr Stan Gehrt]
As an American these days I'm in no position to comment on other countries border policies at all.
Thank you for the talk.
It's very informative.
I was wondering what the strategies you have to dispel some dangerous myths surrounding coyotes for example during our denning season where there's the myth that's going around in social media that coyotes lure dogs to predate upon and make food for the litter which is a very dangerous myth.
I was wondering what kind of strategies you have to dispel those myths?
[Dr Stan Gehrt]
Strategies to dispel the myths?
All i can do is provide the information for people to try to be informed.
So we either like, in giving talks such as these, publishing the results that we have.
The social media is a difficult thing.
I don't really know I have a good answer for that.
That's a tough one that it's gonna take someone smarter than me to try and figure out how to battle that, but that's a really good example.
So that is a myth that has been around forever.
The Coyotes lure dogs in and then the pack is hiding around and in they attack the dog.
There is certainly behavior that they exhibit that's similar to that and I can certainly understand where that myth comes from but in many cases what's just happening is that coyotes spend a lot of time by themselves but the pack mates are in proximity to them when they're chased by dog.
They're gonna go as close as fast they can to safety often there's other coyotes there already, and so it's not necessarily they're luring it that's just happens to be a coincidence that that's where they're taking them.
That myth will never go away and you'll never convince people, so I tell them that and they choose to not believe me so so I'm just trying.
At what point like you consider nuisance because right now we have coyotes are coming to our fence daily after our dog and we've done everything and this is daytime, morning, night, it doesn't matter the time of day.
We're seeing them five to six times a week like daily coming.
So at what point do you consider them a nuisance?
Second, we've done the like loud noises we've done everything and they still continue and they're not they're getting to the point where we can be within two three feet of our back fence before they'll take off like they're no longer afraid of us.
[Dr Stan Gehrt:]
Right well it's not it's not necessarily up to me to determine whether there are nuisance because I'm not the one that's living in your house.
It's not my dogs.
When I recorded those animals like the percentage that were nuisances that's those were coyotes that were reported as nuisances by the public.
I didn't determinate they're a nuisance.
It was the public determinants they were nuisance.
So you strictly decide when there are nuisance or when they're too much of a nuisance.
Not necessarily me.
It's also very difficult for me to make a decision like that when I'm not actually seeing what's the behavior is actually taking place.
Sometimes people misinterpret what they're seeing and unless they describe something to me it may or may not reflect it so it's very hard for me to provide like a definite response when I'm not actually there.
But what I can say is that if it's something that you're if it becomes threatening and you're worried about it and that's something that you should be reporting to your animal control agencies.
Your neighbors, hopefully, they would also be reporting out and if there's a shift in their behavior and they're becoming more aggressive then they may have to be removed.
Just know, and the one thing I didn't talk about when you do a removal it's always you want to try and understand why are they behaving that way because they will be replaced by other coyotes.
So if you don't understand what the root cause is, doing the removal itself may or may not answer that question.
So it's important to try and understand that.
You might check to see with neighbors and see if there's anyone that's actually doing anything that contributes to the problem as opposed to solution, such as inviting them into the problem onto their properties and things like that.
So often what we're finding is that a whole community and neighborhood everyone can be doing exactly the right things, it takes one or two people that aren't and then it's it basically minimizes all the work that you're doing.
And sorry, I don't have a better answer for you than that, but but if you're do you determine whether or not that they are nuisance not not me and it sounds like you have a building problem there.
Locally they if you didn't know where to call it would be 3-1-1.
I know and yeah we'll have to work on that.
If there's an imminent sense of threat then you know that it is a call for the police.
You know, if someone is feeling directly personally threatened then then it is a matter for the police.
And yes we would be talking about you know if there was an animal that attacked anyone within the city boundaries then we would be looking at addressing that obviously.
We're running very late but I know there were a couple people, so I'm just going to take two more questions, so I'm sorry everyone, we'll take two more questions after that it's up to Stan's goodwill.
I'll have a couple closing remarks after these last two questions.
Earlier you mentioned that in the Northeast coyotes were bigger than they were in the southeast.
Does that have to do because of the temperature?
Like it often gets more colder up northeast.
Is that one of the factors?
[Dr Stan Gehrt:]
Well, we don't know for sure, but most people are leaning more toward there's a there is a slightly higher percentage of the wolf gene in your northeast as opposed to the southeast so you usually attribute that that size difference to that, but we don't really know for sure exactly.
You do have a slightly higher percentage of wolf.
It turns out that even though that was historic, there is still some hybridization taking place in Ontario between our Algoniquin wolves and coyotes.
In fact it's one of the biggest threats to your Algonquin wolves is the breeding of coyotes.
There are some recent wolf genes being introduced as well.
First thank you for the really thoughtful an excellent talk.
North of Ottawa sort of north end of Gatineau Park and north of there there's talk of red wolves or Algonquin wolves there and overlap with coyotes as well, and I'm wondering if there's ways you can tell them apart through their vocalizations?
[Dr Stan Gehrt:]
Through the vocalizations?
I don't know.
So that's actually a really good question because we know that grey wolves and coyotes have dramatically different vocalizations and there's actually some reasons for that.
But the Algonquin wolves, I don't, I have not seen any actually measures to see how much how different they are so I don't have a good answer for that.
If you ever heard I'm sure you've heard wolves howl and coyotes.
We call wolves the opera singers of the canid world and the coyotes are the rappers.
I don't know where the Algonquin wolf is on that, which way they lean.
I'd like to thank you Stan.
Thank everyone for coming out tonight.
Unfortunately Councillor El Chantiry had to step out, but we're very grateful to all of you for coming downtown on such a snowy day.
We weren't sure what the weather would be at this time of year but it is an important time of year to talk about coyotes because as you've heard this is a big time of year for them and they're out there.
So we would just like to present Stan with a little token of our appreciation.
Thank You Stan and we hope thank you we hope you don't have any trouble getting it across the border