Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Coyote Urban

A few weeks back, on my way home I spotted in my neighborhood a lone coyote crossing busy 33rd Avenue just north of Fremont.  While urban coyotes are not necessarily that out of the ordinary (such as the adventurous multi-modal coyote that boarded MAX light rail a few years back) but the neighborhood I live is not in proximity to large patches of habitat - even though as you can see from the breakdown of the grid, it is adjacent to the Alameda Ridge - which is not necessarily known as a significant habitat corridor.

:: image via OPB

Our neighborhood newsletter jogged my memory, as I was only half convinced that it had actually been a coyote I spotted.  Turns out, it's not odd, and this particular guy seems wary, but mostly unafraid of humans.  Some info from the Portland Audubon Society offers some context to the sightings:
"Coyotes have lived in Northeast Portland’s Alameda Neighborhood for years. Audubon periodically receives reports from neighbors who have observed a coyote hunting mice at dawn in Wilshire Park or stealthily slinking down a neighborhood street as night approaches. It is no surprise that coyotes are there — coyotes, an animal that Navajo sheepherders once referred to as “God’s Dog,” have established themselves in neighborhoods across Portland just as they have established themselves in cities across North America. Although they are often observed alone, coyotes are pack animals and a pack will establish a territory over an area that can cover several kilometers. Normally they are shy and secretive, and neighbors often do not even realize that they are around."
The map below shows a shot of the neighborhood - the spotting occurred around the center of the map - to the southwest of Wilshire Park - the rectangular green space in the upper right quadrant which is about two blocks from our house.


I typically imagine a large(r) predator needing more significant habitat patches, but as mentioned in some factoids from Audubon, coyotes are particularly adaptable and "have demonstrated an ability to survive in the most urbanized environments in cities across North America. Most urban coyotes go about their lives without ever raising awareness of their presence among their human neighbors."

:: image via KATU

The coyotes in Alameda are somewhat interesting and have elicited some very Portland-like responses, such as this elementary school project.  It's curious - as I wonder how these aren't spotted, and where they live, as they obviously don't travel to less inhabited places.  Due mostly to fear from residents, removal is sometimes recommended - but for the most part it's an issue of humans and wildlife living together, as the coyotes seem to be here to stay:

"There will likely always be coyotes in the Alameda Neighborhood. New coyotes quickly replace coyotes that have been removed. The only real question is whether human residents will make changes that minimize conflicts with these wild dogs. Kudos to the Alameda residents for responding to their wild neighbors with a balance of caution, appreciation, and most importantly, proactive efforts to address potential conflicts."
In addition to some more coverage on OPB, there's also a short news blurb from local station KGW.

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