Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Eric M. Gese


Eric M. Gese


R. Douglas Ramsey


Julie K. Young


James A. Powell


Stewart W. Breck


As urban development continues to increase throughout the world, wildlife species, including carnivores, will be affected either positively or negatively. Coyotes (Canis latrans) have learned to efficiently adapt to highly developed areas, and conflicts between humans and coyotes, such as attacks on humans and pets, are increasing. We conducted three studies of urban coyotes to understand the factors affecting habitat use by coyotes so that wildlife managers can reduce human-coyote conflicts. Each study was conducted at progressively larger scales, with the first study at a fine scale using captive coyotes, the second study at a local scale in the Denver metropolitan area, and the third study at a national scale. Our results suggested that coyotes prefer a mixture of urban and natural habitat, and food does not play as large a role in coyote habitat choices as does habitat structure. Coyotes residing in urban areas will spend much of their time in natural areas where human activity is minimized, especially forested and riparian areas that provide cover for coyotes and their native prey. Urban areas throughout the United States were less likely to have human-coyote conflicts if they contained large amounts of forested and agricultural areas and smaller amounts of highly developed areas. Hence, we conclude that habitat management practices, such as increasing or preserving large forested and other natural habitat patches, should be a priority of urban wildlife managers to provide coyotes with places to live. Recreational activity by humans and their pets should be minimized in these natural areas to reduce encounters between coyotes and humans. These practices should help prevent the continued increase of human-coyote conflicts in urban areas.



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