AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The number of coyote encounters and attacks has been spiking in the Denver metro area for more than a year and wildlife officials have been using a tracking program aimed at solving the problem.
Wildlife officials say those who live anywhere in the metro area probably live less than a half mile from a coyote.
Ecologist Mary Ann Bonnell with the City of Aurora showed CBS4′s Dominic Garcia a coyote’s paradise in the middle of a concrete jungle.
“It is a coyote’s paradise … especially an urban coyote’s paradise,” she said.
“They’re all over the place, and a lot of times you just don’t know they’re around,” Stewart Breck with the National Wildlife Research Center said.
Breck heads up the study that collars and tracks dozens of coyotes in the metro area. They want to know habitat, behavior, diet — everything.
“A big focus is, what do we do when there is conflict? How do we solve conflict between humans and coyotes?” Breck said.
“Having 10 plus people bitten by coyotes was certainly a concern for us. Pets being taken was also on the increase,” Jennifer Churchill with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.
There isn’t much research on urban coyotes. Cities deal with coyotes differently.
Bonnell realized a need to learn about coyotes after a citizen had their dog eaten.
“This citizen was in tears, the city council person was very upset, and everyone was looking at me saying, ‘What are you going to do?’ ” she said.
The study also has dozens of citizens helping by reporting any and everything they see when it comes to coyotes. It’s still early, but one thing they’ve noticed is that most coyotes aren’t scared of people. It’s a sign humans need to learn to live with the new neighbors.
“These are animals that will be here forever and we need to understand that and learn how to coexist with them,” Churchill said.
A number of agencies are a part of this study. The goal is to have a more uniform understanding and plan of action when it comes to coyotes. The study is long term with about three more years to go.