Evaluating human–coyote encounters in an urban landscape using citizen science

David Drake, Shelli Dubay, Maximilian L Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coyotes are ubiquitous in habitats across North America, including in urban areas. Reviews of human-coyote encounters are limited in scope and analysis and predominantly document encounters that tend to be negative, such as human-wildlife conflict, rather than benign experiences. The objective of our study was to use citizen science reports of human-coyote interactions entered into iNaturalist to better understand the range of first person accounts of human-coyote encounters in Madison, WI. We report 398 citizen science accounts of human-coyote encounters in the Madison area between October 2015 and March 2018. Most human-coyote encounters occurred during coyote breeding season and half of all encounters occurred in moderate development land cover. Estimated level of coyote aggressiveness varied significantly, with 90% of citizen scientists scoring estimated coyote aggression as a 0 and 7% scoring estimated aggression as a 1 on a 0-5 scale (with 0 being calm and 5 being aggressive). Our best performing model explaining the estimated distance between the human observer and a coyote (our proxy for a human-coyote encounter) included the variables distance to nearest paved road, biological season of the year relative to coyote life history, and time of day/night. We demonstrate that human-coyote interactions are regularly more benign than negative, with almost all first-hand reported human-coyote encounters being benign. We encourage public outreach focusing on practices that can foster benign encounters when educating the public to facilitate human-coyote coexistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjuaa032
JournalJournal of Urban Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 22 2021


  • INHS
  • urban
  • iNaturalist
  • coyote
  • citizen science
  • human

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


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