About five miles from Chicago O’Hare International Airport, scientists have located the smallest known coyote territory ever observed. For at least six years, a coyote community has maintained its existence within about a third of a square mile.
“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 of environment and natural resources at Ohio State University who has led the tracking of coyotes around Chicago for 12 years. “It amazes me.”
Coyotes are the largest of the mammalian carnivores to have made their way to, and thrived in, urban settings, Gehrt said.
“The coyote is the test case for other animals. Raccoons, skunks, foxes – they’ve already been able to penetrate the urban landscape pretty well. The coyote is the most recent and largest. The jury’s out with what’s going to happen with the bigger ones,” he said.
The bigger ones include wolves, mountain lions and bears. Mountain lions have been seen on the fringes of cities already, and one was shot near the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago.