TOPEKA (KSNT) – Coyote numbers are on the rise in Kansas with some getting increasingly more comfortable living next to humans in residential and other urban areas.
KSNT 27 News spoke with Matt Peek, a wildlife research biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), about how coyotes are adapting to life in Kansas towns and cities.
“They’ve [coyotes] adapted and are learning to live in the most urban of areas,” Peek said. “The green space of some of our cities now harbor not only coyotes but deer and other wild animals as well.”
The coyote has a reputation for adaptability and cunning, having survived decades of attempts from humans to take their numbers down a peg. From widespread trapping and shooting to cyanide guns and poisoned carcasses, the coyote has endured and even managed to flourish throughout much of the U.S.
Similar to other states, Kansas is also seeing a rise in coyote activity in populated areas. Kansas game wardens with the KDWP released a statement in 2022 declaring that extreme drought conditions are largely the cause of this movement. Peek says differently, however.
“The more important thing is that coyotes have become better acclimated to living in urban and suburban areas,” Peek said. “But I wouldn’t necessarily attribute that to the drought. It’s happening relatively independent of the drought. They have adapted to living closer to people.”
Peek said coyotes are attracted to towns and cities due to access to food and habitat resources. Coyotes can find food in local gardens or by hunting animals such as rabbits or people’s pets. Cats and small dogs left unattended are at risk of becoming a meal for coyotes.
“You can watch them [coyotes] and enjoy being able to see them,” Peek said. “The presence of a coyote doesn’t constitute a major threat. If you own a dog, you should take some precautions, don’t put them out in the yard unattended. If you’re gonna let them out at night, put them in an enclosure. People who let their cats free range in the presence of coyotes are at risk just as they are with dogs and cars.”
In more rural areas, Peek said coyotes pose risks for farmers who own livestock and free-range fowl. Coyotes will target animals like sheep and chickens, picking them off over time.
“There are private individuals out there, wildlife control permit holders who are licensed to remove them,” Peek said. “In rural areas, the person can resolve the problem themselves or by bringing in someone with a hunting license. Traditionally, licensed hunters have been the primary resolution in resolving these situations.”
Unlike other furbearers in Kansas, the coyote can be hunted and trapped year-round under state law. Peek said this law was passed in response to the coyote’s potential to cause damage to the state’s agricultural industry.
The coyote shouldn’t be considered a complete nuisance though, according to Peek. As a native species, it provides a lot of value to the environment. Around 35,000 people hunt coyotes every year as well in the fall and winter, sometimes traveling from out of the state to do so, bringing in economic activity to Kansas.
Peek said it is important to make sure coyotes don’t get comfortable in your neighborhood. You can use a technique called ‘hazing’ to make sure coyotes don’t get used to the presence of humans. Many of the occasions where a coyote has attacked a human in an urban setting involve a coyote that has become habituated to humans over time. Another tip to keep coyotes away from your home includes not leaving food out: coyotes have been found to visit places where they can get food easily.