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Coyotes 1, Geese 0

By Matt Wood in Miscellaneous on Oct 26, 2005 3:51PM

2005_10_coyote.jpgTales of "urban coyotes" roaming the Chicago area are fairly common these days. Illinois' largest natural predator has adapted to living among humans and apparently doesn't mind too much. One of them was spotted hanging out on the rocks near the lake shore at Navy Pier in 2003, and they've also been spotted rolling through the Lincoln Park Zoo on two separate occasions.

Obviously, coyotes living in your backyard is cause to tell your kids not to build their refrigerator box-fort too close to the tree line (they have anvils and jet propelled pogo sticks you know). Make sure you don't leave Fifi outside at night too. But the burgeoning coyote population is flexing its alpha-predator might in a less threatening and more helpful way: they're keeping down the Canada goose population too.

The goose population usually grows 10-20 percent a year, but in Chicago they are growing at only 1 percent, says Stanley Gehrt, a researcher from The Ohio State University. His team has been tracking about 180 coyotes and found that they spend 90 percent of their time at night gnoshing on goose eggs. The coyotes are also surprisingly docile, meaning that as they grow more comfortable with humans they are probably more dangerous.

Less goose shit in our yard? Hell yeah, coyotes rule then. But other animals in the news aren't so welcome. The Sun-Times burned up 1,500 words worth of newsprint to let readers bitch about squirrels. While we think that having a squirrel dig through your trash can or scamper through your patio isn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, we do fondly remember our father's epic battles with the squirrels who kept cleaning out the bird feeder in our backyard. Those little bastards are sneaky.