By 2050 more than 65% of humans are expected to live in urban and suburban areas. This shift has gained the attention of conservation scientists and managers with more focus directed on conflict and coexistence between wildlife and urbanized populations. One species that is increasingly prominent in urban and suburban environments is the coyote (Canis latrans). Coyotes have established themselves as a keystone predator with a regulating effect on prey populations, thus playing an important role in the functioning of the urban ecosystem. However, research has shown that negative perceptions of coyotes are common and contribute to support for eradication-focused management strategies, such as broad-scale trapping or culling, which are expensive and largely ineffective. To better understand coyote acceptance and non-acceptance we conducted a comparative study of park users residing in two counties in the New York metropolitan area: a suburban county, where coyotes are already established, and an urban county, where coyotes have only recently begun to arrive. Our findings suggest that urban respondents have lower levels of coyote acceptance and higher preference for coyote removal than suburban respondents. We tested multiple predictor variables to determine which was the strongest driver of desire for removal: perception of threat to humans and pets, perception of coyote “naturalness” in the environment, and appropriateness of expressed reaction to a hypothetical coyote encounter. We found that perception of coyote “naturalness” was the strongest predictor of whether people felt that coyotes belonged in the region and thus should not be removed. Our results suggest that wildlife coexistence strategies could benefit from messages that instill in residents a sense that their local area is a place where coyotes and other wild animals belong.
Manzolillo, Brielle R.; Henger, Carol S.; Graham, Tatyana; Hall, Nadya; and Toomey, Anne H.
"Are Coyotes “Natural”? Differences in Perceptions of Coyotes Among Urban and Suburban Park Users,"
Cities and the Environment (CATE):
2, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/cate/vol12/iss2/1