Coyotes, raccoons, and foxes are synurbizing. That’s what researchers call the animals’ adaptive behavior when their natural habitat shrinks due to urban development. A recent study out of Penn State shows white-tailed deer fawns have better chances of survival in mixed-cover areas -- a combination of agricultural or landscaped areas and forests versus forests. In forests alone, the average survival to six months of age was about 41 percent.
According to Science Daily, researchers say coyote predation was a greater source of mortality for the deer than black bear or bobcat predation, especially in the southeast.
In a separate study out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, scientists found red foxes and coyotes are coming into close contact with one another. According to the Wisconsin Gazette, researchers found one instance where a coyote routinely visited a fox den over about a two or three week period. Scientists say the fox and kits did not abandon the den – which suggests they didn't feel threatened by the coyote.
The disappearing hostility between the two species have implications for wildlife managers working to promote their co-existence.
In New Hanover County, a randomized group of residents are getting a survey asking about whether they’ve seen coyotes, their perceptions of them, and their attitudes towards them. But whether you’ve seen them or not, coyotes are here to stay – as are red foxes, white-tailed deer, and raccoons.
Rachael Urbanek is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She also serves as the advisor for the newly-founded Seahawk Wildlife Society which allows UNCW students to gain field experience, network with wildlife professionals, and learn about current wildlife conservation research.