Have you ever taken a walk around your neighborhood and seen a flutter of four-legged creatures with fluffy tails and fierce faces? Urban canids are all around us — whether you notice them or not — and UW-Madison is keeping track of the creatures.
The university launched its Urban Canid Project in 2014 after multiple reports of coyotes and red fox sightings were reported around campus. The experts in the program study how these animals, who have historically lived in rural settings, use the urban landscape and how their lives and behaviors change as a result of their living settings. Researchers trap and collar the canids and monitor their locations remotely without disturbing the animals.
An important aspect of the project is learning how humans and canids can coexist in an urban setting. When it comes to interacting with these wild neighbors, here are some tips from the experts.
Don't Feed Them
Experts say this is their best advice when it comes to avoiding conflict with wild animals. When wild animals come to associate humans with food, they lose their natural fear and become more dependent on people.
Mind Your Pets
Keep dogs on leashes when in areas known to hold wild canids, especially coyotes. Though conflict between pets and wild canids is rare, it can happen. Encounters can be especially tense during breeding season, which typically runs from January through March.
Hazing Can Be a Goo
Experts emphasize that canids should maintain a healthy level of fear of humans. If you see a canid getting too cozy in your neighborhood, you can use hazing techniques to assert dominance and minimize the chance of conflict. This can include clapping, yelling, and throwing objects in the canid’s direction.
For more, you can check out this video on how to haze coyotes from Public Health Madison & Dane County.
Treat Them With Respect
As with all of nature, building a sense of mutual respect is key to cohabitating peacefully.
Have you seen a fox or coyote in your own yard? The Urban Canid Project wants to know. You can report your sightings using the iNaturalist app. More than 2,300 have been recorded so far!