You may have a set of new neighbors in the near future, according to researchers at Ohio State University (OSU).
OSU researchers are concerned that an increase in urban coyotes could be a sign that larger carnivores will soon migrate in large numbers to big cities, possibly altering the interactions between humans and animals such as bears and mountain lions. The researchers say that a group of coyotes has lived entirely within approximately a third of a square mile for six years outside of Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the first such sign that more creatures may be adapting to human encroachment on their territory.
“That’s an indication that they don’t have to go far to find food and water. They’re finding everything they need right there, in the suburbs of Chicago,” said Stan Gehrt, an associate professor at Ohio State, in a statement. “It amazes me.”
Urban areas cover more than 100 million acres within the continental the United States and are spreading, with an increase of 48 percent from 1982 to 2003. Although urbanization affects wildlife, ecologists know relatively little about its effect on how human developments impact various creatures. Mr. Gehrt and his colleagues believe that if coyotes can adapt to urban environments, there is a possibility that cougars and bears could also move into the big cities.