Date of Award
Urban expansion has rapidly increased over the last few decades. Over half of the human population now lives in urban areas (United Nations 2014). This has resulted in many carnivores being forced to adapt and find ways to use urban resources to survive (Bateman and Fleming 2012). While larger carnivores usually end up locally extinct, some medium sized predators like red fox (Vulpes vulpes), coyotes (Canis latrans), and raccoons (Procyon lotor) thrive in urban environments (Bateman and Fleming 2012). Having these carnivores living among humans can have both positive and negative consequences for the human population. Predators like coyotes can kill house and feral cats (Felis catus), which can release songbirds from predation pressure and increase their abundance and diversity (Gehrt 2010). However, these carnivores can also cause nuisance issues, such as property damage, and public health issues, such as spreading diseases and parasites (Gehrt 2004). It is usually these negative effects that cause conflicts.
This study looked specifically at urban coyotes because of their history of conflict with humans. In just the state of California there were 111 coyote attacks on humans as of 2007 (Timm and Baker 2007). Between the 1970s and 2003, 79% of the 89 coyotes attacks that occurred were in the last ten years, suggesting that coyote-human conflicts are on the rise (Timm et al. 2004). A survey given to the same neighborhood in Arizona in 1992 and 2007 showed an increase the frequency of coyote sightings (Lawrence and Krausman 2011). This increase could be due to increasing urbanization or because coyotes have learned how to utilize urban areas to their advantage. The home ranges of urban coyotes is less than half of the home ranges of coyotes living in non-urban areas, allowing them to live at higher densities and suggesting urban environments are very rich in resources for coyotes (Timm et al. 2004). Furthermore, some coyotes have lost their fear of humans because they are not persecuted in urban areas. Re-instilling fear of humans in coyotes may reduce conflict with humans.
Trapping has shown to be the most effective tool in reestablishing fear among urban coyotes, and also the most effective way to remove problem individuals (Baker 2007). However, hunting and trapping are not easy to use as a main solution in urban areas. Therefore, non-lethal methods offer an alternative solution. One of the methods recommended is hazing. Hazing involves using some kind of negative stimuli to scare wildlife (Oleyar 2010). However, there is a paucity of research on hazing coyotes. Further, animals may become habituated to the negative stimuli and learn there are no repercussions to hazing (Conover 2002 and Oleyar 2010). It is thought that hazing will only work if there is a real punishment involved (McCullough 1982 and Timm et al. 2004) . However, it has been suggested that if all of the public use hazing, it could work and a fear of humans can be reestablished (Schmidt et al. 2007). This study aims to determine whether or not hazing alters coyote behaviors towards humans. It examines how previous experiences with humans influences coyote responses to hazing.
Reed, Dakota, "The Effects of Hazing on Urban Coyotes" (2016). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 540.
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Julie K. Young
Departmental Honors Advisor