PSU students track urban coyotes with online project

In this still image from video, a coyote is seen in Gresham on Monday morning, Dec. 10, 2018. (Contributed image)

Coyote sightings in urban areas are happening more than you may think. Thousands of sightings are reported each year in the Portland area.

“The research we have been doing -- there are coyotes from the Arctic to the Yucatan, from coast to coast, they are in every major city,” Professor Barbara Brower of Portland State University said.

Brower says sightings like this are being tracked by the Portland Urban Coyote Project, a PSU project created by students.

“The map tells us is how many sightings there are,” said Brower.

The site shows the thousands of sightings across the Portland metro area so far this year.

They even keep track of when you might see more coyotes. For example, in 2016, according to their data, coyote sightings doubled in the fall and winter months: from 200 to nearly 400 a month.

“I think the bigger goal is to get people to understand urban coyotes and know they aren’t the threat we think they are. I think we have a latent fear of predators,” Brower said.

She says coyotes are unlikely to attack humans but small animals like dogs and cats could be targets.

Which is why, she says, if a coyote is seen, hazing them is important.

“Coyotes are very smart and they recognize the threat humans are, so what’s effective is reminding them to be afraid,” Brower said.

Which is exactly what hazing is.

According to the Humane Society, if you spot a coyote, you should yell and wave your arms while moving toward the coyote.

Also make noise, get loud, use what you can to startle them.

If you don’t want to get close, try tossing something in its direction like a ball or a stick.

If you see a coyote, you are asked to report it to help the Urban Coyote Project with their research.

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