Date of this Version
J. Ethol (2012) 30:413–425; DOI 10.1007/s10164-012-0339-8
Expansion of the coyote’s (Canis latrans) distribution in North America has included most urban areas. Concerns for human safety have resulted in the need to understand the spatial relationship between humans and coyotes in urban landscapes. We examined the space use of coyotes with varying degrees of urban development in the Chicago metropolitan area, IL, USA, between March 2000 and December 2002. We compared home-range size, land use, and habitat use of 41 radio-collared coyotes (5 coyotes residing in developed areas, 29 in less-developed areas, and 7 in a matrix of developed and less-developed areas). The partitioning of coyotes into groups based on their level of exposure to urban development allowed us to examine if differences in use of land types by coyotes was evident in our study area. Coyotes in developed areas had home ranges twice the size of animals in less-developed areas. Nonurban habitats were used by all coyotes in the study area, while urban land was avoided. Coyotes in developed areas had large home ranges and high amounts of urban land in their range, but preferred nonurban habitat. This required the coyotes to travel through a matrix of urban land, thus encountering human activity and possibly increasing the risk of conflict with humans. However, coyotes in developed areas avoided crepuscular times when human activity was highest, suggesting that coyotes in developed areas may reduce conflicts with humans by traveling through the matrix of urban land late at night when the risk of contact with humans is lowest. Coyotes in less-developed areas were less affected by human activity at night and likely posed less risk to humans.