As we humans continue to expand our towns and cities, taking up more and more land that used to belong to wildlife, we also have to deal with these new wild neighbors and find a way to live them. Rapid development is great for humans, but not so great for the wildlife that live there. As what were once wild spaces are transformed into human homes, the wildlife that called those places home must either die, move to another location, or adapt their behaviors in order to coexist with us. As you can imagine, conflicts between this native wildlife and their new human neighbors will inevitably ensue. The state of Texas, with its many wide-open spaces and increased growth over the years, is having to handle these conflicts more and more as we humans expand further into places that have belonged to the native wildlife for a very long time now.
One of the most common wildlife that is having to adapt to more urban environments are coyotes. North Texas has a very healthy coyote population, with urban coyotes thriving around the growing human population. It is even normal to spot urban coyotes in places like posh Dallas neighborhoods where they live quite peacefully amongst their human neighbors, with cases of them acting aggressive towards humans extremely rare. However, these animals have had some time now to adjust to their change in lifestyle. The wildlife in some of the cities that are currently under a lot of development and are rapidly expanding are dealing with this change for the first time, and some conflicts between the humans and coyotes have occurred.
The city of Frisco, Texas is having its share of problems with the local coyote population at the moment. Residents have reported a string of coyote attacks in its newer neighborhoods starting in October of last year. Coyotes are usually not aggressive towards humans and prefer to avoid us than risk an interaction. These recent attacks are unusual for coyotes, considered anomalies by experts. Passing drivers have had to stop coyotes from stalking joggers along Eldorado Parkway twice. One aggressive coyoted scratched a 9 year old child and even bit one woman on the neck. Following these attacks, two other women that were jogging were attacked and a coyote bit a dog that was walking through the neighborhood. Because of these attacks, Frisco officials have had to capture these aggressive coyotes and euthanize them. Oddly enough, none of them tested positive for rabies, but some were potentially “unhealthy”. Some residents are blaming this on the construction of new neighborhoods and apartment complexes, but this still doesn’t explain their aggression, according to Sam Kieschnick, one of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s urban biologists. The odd case of these aggressive coyotes is drawing national attention from experts because it is so rare for coyotes to act aggressively towards humans.
For now, residents have been advised to be more watchful when outside in their neighborhoods. Many parents are now picking up their children from school rather than let them walk home and chance an encounter with one of these coyotes. In another attempt to keep citizens aware of the coyote population around them, an online system was launched by the city that allows residents to report coyote sightings as well as view where sightings have happened. This helps people see just how many coyotes are living among them and gives them a rough idea of where. The most common advice officials are giving people is to not leave their trash outside overnight, as coyote sightings peak on trash days, and a garbage bin left out in the open is a perfect chance to easily grab some food for opportunistic coyotes.
Have you seen many urban coyotes? In your experience do the ones you come across ever act aggressively?