The coyote’s name is on the long list of animals that are not native to Georgia. However, much to our dismay, they are living here and have spread across the state. They are now living in rural and urban areas alike. This scenario has also played out across other states. With this in mind, biologists at the University of Alberta conducted a study to determine if coyotes living in and around humans in urban areas are just as healthy and their cousins that inhabit rural habitats.
Here in Georgia urban coyotes are now feeding on foods tossed into garbage cans, tossed out of the windows of cars racing down the highway, seeds scattered beneath our bird feeders, as well as food left outside our homes for the family dog. They are preying on domestic pets such as dogs, cats. They are also attacking goats, sheep, and other livestock.
As expected, the researchers found coyotes living in the city eat lots of processed foods such as fast food, dinners tossed in the garbage. The researchers even found coyotes consume pieces of gloves, and the wrappers placed around burritos and the like. These items are a far cry from the foods one would expect to find in the typical diets those coyotes living away from humanity.
Their data collected in this study showed the coyotes feeding in backyards and other food-rich locales are less healthy. These coyotes possess less kidney fat. This is a clear indication they are not eating a nutritious diet. The fact that their spleens are also larger is a sign that the human food they are gobbling up is having a deleterious impact on their immune systems.
It would seem that coyotes that have adopted an urban lifestyle are paying the price for living away from the natural world.
While we cannot eliminate the coyotes that are living close to us, we can stop unwittingly contributing to their dining choices. For example, we all need to secure our garbage cans so coyotes cannot dine on our leftovers. We can also make a point of not leaving pet food outside overnight. If we adopt these and other simple measures, we will be helping ensure coyotes will not make our yards part of their feeding territories.