Cover Story: Coyotes in Beaverton

By Zuriel Rasmussen15 Coyote on 6th Street Beaverton 2016

  • Are coyotes dangerous?
  • What do they eat?
  • What should I do if I see a coyote?

Providing answers to questions like these is one of the main goals of the Portland Urban Coyote Project (PUCP).

The PUCP, a partnership between Portland State University’s Department of Geography and the Audubon Society of Portland, is a resource for those who want to learn more about their canid neighbors.

Report Coyote Sightings

In addition to providing an informational tutorial on the website (portlandcoyote.com) and answering questions about coyotes, the PUCP has been recording resident reports of coyotes in the Portland metropolitan area (PMA) for over five years. From these sighting reports, researchers learn more about how and where humans and coyotes interact across the PMA.

Coyotes rarely pose a threat.15 UCP Map 2

They usually go unnoticed, hunting at night and hiding out in overlooked patches of land.

Studies generally find that urban coyotes survive on a diet similar to their rural counterparts. Their diet consists mostly of rodents and rabbits, but coyotes are opportunistic and will eat anything from fruit to pet food.

Will a coyote eat my pet?

Coyotes do not eat small pets as often as some may think; nonetheless, best practice is to keep pets indoors or supervised when outdoors. If you see a coyote, it’s best to use hazing tactics to help maintain its innate wariness of humans. Hazing tactics are anything that scares coyotes away—you can simply yell and wave your arms, fill a coffee can with rocks and shake it, or even blow an air horn. An important additional step to keep people and coyotes safe is to remove food sources; remove brush piles that attract rodents, keep pet food inside, and never intentionally feed a coyote.

Coyotes in Beaverton?15 UCP photo 1

The PUCP received 2,242 coyote sighting reports in 2016 (as of late December). Almost all of these sightings were reported in the PMA, with 1,283 in the city of Portland and 214 reported in Beaverton.

Though 214 reports might seem relatively low, those reports make up almost 10% of all PUCP coyote sighting reports, which is interesting since Beaverton makes up only about 4% of the land area in the PMA.

It’s difficult to know whether this means there are more coyotes in Beaverton than other areas, whether Beavertonians see coyotes more often, or whether Beaverton residents report their sightings more frequently. Whatever the case may be, the PUCP thanks Beaverton for their reports.

If you see a coyote, you can report it at portlandcoyote.com. The more sighting reports the PUCP receives, the more we can explore how coyotes live in urban and suburban areas, how people and coyotes interact, and how coyote populations can be managed more effectively.

About the Project Researcher15 Zuriel Rasmussen

Zuriel Rasmussen is a PhD student in the School of the Environment at Portland State University and the project coordinator and researcher for the Portland Urban Coyote Project. Rasmussen studies human-carnivore interactions using an interdisciplinary approach that combines her background in psychology (BA, UC Berkeley) and geography (MS, Portland State University) with a variety of other subjects and methodologies. One of her main research areas is exploring how technology and citizen science can be used to make wildlife management more efficient and inexpensive.

For more information about the Portland Urban Coyote Project, or to report a coyote sighting, visit portlandcoyote.com and follow the project on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/portlandurbancoyoteproject/)15 urban coyote project logo