As most readers are aware, there have been numerous coyote sightings in the neighborhood over the past few months. I wrote about some of them back in November and December. In that more recent post, I quoted an email from the zoo indicating that they would shortly be starting an Urban Carnivore Project accessible on their webpage.
I recently received an email from Robert Long, Senior Conservation Scientist at the zoo informing me that the project website has now gone live. In broad terms, the objective of the project is to document and study “how carnivores live and interact with people across urban and suburban areas in the Seattle region.” The project is a collaboration with Seattle University, and aims to study not only coyotes, but other critters, such as opossums and raccoons, that frequent our urban landscape. The website enumerates the project goals (Engage the Local Community, Implement Strategies for Human-Carnivore Coexistence, Collaborate with Other Projects, and Increase Our Understanding of Urban Carnivores), and links to an interesting FAQ focused on coyotes. Among the questions listed are:
- Are coyotes a risk to people?
- Are coyotes a risk to dogs and cats?
- How can I coexist with coyotes?
- Is pepper spray or wasp spray effective at deterring coyotes?
The responses are fairly detailed, so you’ll have to check out the website for the answers.
In addition, Long writes:
… we’ll be initiating some camera-trap based surveys of urban carnivores in early 2019. Further, we’ll have a reporting tool launched sometime in the spring that will enable people to report carnivore sightings and interactions, especially coyotes, so that we can start to better understand how the species is living alongside people in Seattle.
As to the rumor that the zoo has been actively doing work or conducting surveys out in the neighborhood, he says:
I thought I’d relay that to my knowledge there has been no effort to date by Woodland Park Zoo to monitor coyotes beyond the zoo’s immediate footprint. We are aware of the coyotes in the region, and we do have employees and volunteers who live in the adjacent neighborhoods, so I suppose it’s possible that someone on their way to work—possibly wearing clothing with a zoo logo—was mistakenly thought to be researching coyotes. But, I’m unaware of any monitoring or research, and it’s pretty likely I would have heard of it!