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Government Idle Science

Chicago Using Coyotes To Fight Rodents 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-the-chinese-needle-snakes-ready dept.
Brad Block, a supervisor for the Chicago Commission on Animal Care and Control says a coyote recently spotted downtown is part of a program designed to monitor the rodent population. "The animal has the run of the Loop to help deal with rats and mice," He said no one has called today to complain. “He’s not a threat. He’s not going to pick up your children,” Block said. “His job is to deal with all of the nuisance problems, like mice, rats and rabbits.”

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Chicago Using Coyotes To Fight Rodents

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  • Heh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by orphiuchus (1146483) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @07:52PM (#34338170)
    I read this and thought they were paying Mexican smugglers to fight rodents for them. Which, ironically, is what we actually do here in AZ.
    • you sir (or ma'am) are hilarious. (:

    •     Said coyote is in every sense an "illegal immigrant" except it's sanctioned by government employees ;-\

        (Don't read any more in to that than just a joke, please, I don't play partisan asshole politics,for either side)

      SB

  • Damn owls (Score:2, Funny)

    by MrQuacker (1938262)
    Finally, the city is taking the problem of Owls seriously.
  • Advanced notice? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @07:54PM (#34338194) Homepage

    Wouldn't it be nice to tell the public BEFORE you let the coyotes run wild?

    Oh, and by the way, we had to release some tigers to deal with the bugroeoning coyote population....

    • Wouldn't it be nice to tell the public BEFORE you let the coyotes run wild?

      Are you insinuating that Chicago, is in the wild?

      Most folks these days are either depressed or unemployed. Having a coyote bite your leg off, as opposed to a pit bull, is a welcome change from the boring daily grind.

      Most folks would probably not even realize that it was a coyote.

      "I dunno. It kinda sorta looked like a dog. But it did bite me!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Sulphur (1548251)

        Once I put the trash out late at night. A wild looking dog challenged me for the can.

        I thought "He doesn't know", and marked my territory with apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle. He left.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joebagodonuts (561066)
      "Let" them? Part of being wild means they don't always follow instructions.
    • time to bring in road runners and ACME catalogs

      • by robot256 (1635039)
        Roadrunner will have more success now that his target is wearing a government-issued GPS tracking collar. Those ACME homing missiles will be much more effective.
    • by slick7 (1703596)

      Oh, and by the way, we had to release some tigers to deal with the bugroeoning coyote population....

      and then we could let loose elephants to control the tigers, and then we could let loose mice and rats to control the elephants...oh, wait!!!

    • by pspahn (1175617)

      No.

      Coyotes are not much of a threat, that is, unless you let your small children run around in open fields in the middle of the night.

      They might go after cats, but in my experience, cats are pretty adept at escaping from (or not being seen) by coyotes. There is the occasional story of someone's cat getting nabbed in rural areas, but it is not common.

      Besides, if you tell the public, you won't get to laugh when someone freaks out the first time they hear a pack land a kill in the middle of the night. It's

      • by Entropius (188861)

        This.

        Coyotes are natural animals. They can live pretty much anywhere. I live in a city of a million people and we hear them in the city all the time, and nobody really minds. They mind their own business just like they have for millions of years.

        The fact that they do what they always do and we appreciate it is no big deal. People put up roosting boxes for owls to control rodent populations too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Red_Chaos1 (95148)

        Except the coyotes we had that actually thought it okay at some to jump our fence to our back yard and try to get our smaller dogs instead of eating out of the trash cans etc.

        Coyotes are not harmless at all. They run from you. They don't run from your pets. Your pets are food to them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ffreeloader (1105115)

          Well, that's what you get for owning rat-dogs like chihuahuas, toy poodles, etc.... They are so small the coyotes get confused as to which species those little yappers belong to and think they're breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I can't say as I blame them, and I own a chihuahua/papillion cross. He would most definitely look like a snack to a predator such as a coyote and it's my responsibility to make sure a coyote doesn't get him, and I live on the outskirts of a small town where deer, coyotes, hawks, owls

    • chicago had coyotes before this incident

      http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/urbcoyot.htm [osu.edu]

  • This is great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Strange Ranger (454494) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @07:54PM (#34338198)

    This is actually great. I sincerely wish Pennsylvania would culture a few nice wolf populations to control the deer. I'm tired of dodging them with my car.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      You'd rather dodge wolves?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dirty_ghost (1673990)
        based on mass, yes.
      • Re:This is great (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sadness203 (1539377) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @08:16PM (#34338358)

        Dodging them isn't the point. If a deer leap in front of the car and the driver didn't have time to steer or break, well tough luck. Good chance the car is going to be a total wreak, and the driver's dead or gravely injured.

        A (well-feed) wolf doesn't have the habit of starring into coming lights, and in the case the driver hit it, well, it's going to be a bit less spectacular. A deer can weight up to 200kg, a wolf weight barely more than 60kg. Deers have an habit of smashing the windshield, wolves mostly hit the bumper.

        • Re:This is great (Score:5, Interesting)

          by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @08:33PM (#34338480) Journal

          You're talking to someone who has hit a deer at 50+ miles per hour. (I don't know what that works out to in KPH, sorry.)

          Dunno about kilograms but the local DOT estimated the deer (a doe) weighed 160 pounds or more.

          We were ok, and it didn't even break the windshield. It did do over $3000 (US) damage to the truck.

          The secret to surviving a deer is to drive a truck of 1/2 ton or heavier, with the optional 4X4 package that jacks the truck up a few inches so the deer doesn't go over the hood.

          The problem I see with wolves is, if it *does* go over the hood, then you have a really pissed off wolf in the car with you...

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Pharmboy (216950)

            The problem I see with wolves is, if it *does* go over the hood, then you have a really pissed off wolf in the car with you...

            At 50+ MPH? I don't think so. Anyway, deer have a much higher center of mass than a wolf, (most of the weight is above the skinny legs) which is why they fly over the hood, and are somewhat more likely to survive for a time. Wolves are more skiddish about noises (cars) and less likely to be seen near traffic anyway, and become radiator food if you hit them in the average Buick. Ke

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by adolf (21054)

            Feh.

            I hit a good-sized doe at about 55MPH in a 1996 Pontiac Firebird with slightly lowered suspension. A car like that is about as low at the front end as anything that's not exotic.

            It ruined the car (monetarily, at least, it was totaled) but everyone inside was unharmed and the windshield was intact.

            It could've been worse, obviously. It also could've been better. (The same could be said of your own experience.)

            *shrug*

            I'd like to suggest that good brakes and a controllable vehicle go a lot further toward

          • The secret to surviving a deer is to drive a truck of 1/2 ton or heavier, with the optional 4X4 package that jacks the truck up a few inches so the deer doesn't go over the hood.

            Or hit a smaller deer:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGTbJs2RqPQ [youtube.com]

            Obligatory warning: The video linked above is pretty graphic as it was captured from the dash cam of a speeding patrol car. In spite of the deer quite literally exploding and its small size, it still does a noticeable amount of damage to the vehicle--and that's in spite

          • by mosb1000 (710161)

            The secret to surviving a deer is to drive a truck of 1/2 ton or heavier, with the optional 4X4 package that jacks the truck up a few inches so the deer doesn't go over the hood.

            Not everybody needs such a vehicle.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Surt (22457)

        Wolves aren't cute and cuddly, so you don't have to dodge, you can hit them head on guilt-free.

    • I sincerely wish Pennsylvania would culture a few nice wolf populations to control the deer. I'm tired of dodging them with my car.

      If you haven't hit a deer, you haven't lived... in Pennsylvania. This is a particular problem there because of their use of Jersey barriers up and down the middle of the highways, with few if any gaps for deer to find. So you'll round a turn and find yourself traveling at high speed within a herd of deer who are standing idly around on the road at the Jersey barrier trying to figure out what the hell. It happens to a lot of people. Both times it happened to me I was really lucky.

      The first time I ran into

      • Great stuff. A lot of it sounds so familiar. My wife and I totaled 2 cars in 2 years. Within 5 miles of our house. Both times a huge buck literally just landed on the hood. Like it just started raining bucks from the sky. I've dodged or driven within 5 feet of a deer 4 times in the last month. But there are schools and parks around here. No hunting. 5 or 6 wolves would be perfect. Even if they ate 2 toddlers over the years it would be far less then the number killed by deer.

  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @07:56PM (#34338218) Homepage Journal

    One neighbor of mine watched a coyote carry off her miniature dog, and when coyotes start being sighted, the Missing Cat posters start appearing.

    • A farmer near me had to save a young calf from coyotes. Children are less safe from coyotes than they are from like-sized domestic dogs, such as pit bulls.
      • by c0lo (1497653)

        A farmer near me had to save a young calf from coyotes. Children are less safe from coyotes than they are from like-sized domestic dogs, such as pit bulls.

        TFS (citing TFA) uses "he" in referring to the coyote... which induces the idea of being actually a person. I can almost hear:
        Yeah, you see... this one is highly trained, has already signed a work contract and is bound by the "public servant" laws to do minimal harm... And you, sir, seems to suggest discriminatory practices, you can't do that... is against the law and not "politically correct" (should have referred to him as a "dog of North American Indigenous descendence")

    • by nbauman (624611)

      In New York City, we have a bad pigeon problem around the New York Public Library* building on 42nd St. and 5th Ave. and the neighboring Bryant Park.

      A falconer convinced the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation to let him try a hawk. http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3004&page=1 [wirednewyork.com]

      It seemed to work for a while. Then the hawk attacked some lady's chihuahua, and they discontinued the experiment.

      I don't think it would have worked anyway, since the hawk was trained to just scare the pigeons and cha

      • by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @09:03PM (#34338662) Homepage Journal

        In New York City, we have a bad pigeon problem ... A falconer convinced the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation to let him try a hawk. ... It seemed to work for a while. Then the hawk attacked some lady's chihuahua, and they discontinued the experiment.

        Well, jeez; he used a Harris hawk. He should have used a peregrine falcon. They pretty much restrict themselves to killing and eating smaller birds. They were almost extinct in North America 30 years ago, but people started introducing them to cities, and now they've recovered and are busy eating pigeons, grackles, starlings, and lots of sparrows as light snacks, in cities all over the continent.

        Of course, they do have some limitations. They don't go after mice or rats; for that it's better to use an animal that lives on the ground and can poke around in out-of-the-way corners. Also, peregrines are highly territorial during nesting season (spring, summer), and won't tolerate a peregrine other than their mate within a mile or so of the nest. The pigeon population in a square mile of most cities is too high for a pair of peregrines to clean out. But this territoriality is common for most other kinds of hawks, too, so as photogenic as they are, hawks are only a partial solution to a pigeon (or starling or sparrow) surplus.

        As others have suggested, our best rodent control is probably our domestic cats, with a little help from our dogs. We just have to stop treating them as pampered pets, and put them back to work doing the job that we domesticated them for. They're carnivores whose wild relatives live mostly by eating rodents, and they're well-adapted to living with humans.

        It might be interesting to try introducing meerkats in a few areas. They're incredibly cute, and they also like to eat rodents. They also like to make burrows, and could probably invade a lot of the rodents' turfs. There are some other mongooses (mongeese?) that also have potential for urban rodent control.

        There's also the area in southern India where people keep household cobras for rodent control ...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          It might be interesting to try introducing meerkats in a few areas. They're incredibly cute, and they also like to eat rodents. They also like to make burrows, and could probably invade a lot of the rodents' turfs. There are some other mongooses (mongeese?) that also have potential for urban rodent control.

          Not a good idea. Mongooses are diurnal, rats are nocturnal. It's already been tried in Hawaii and all it did was kill off a lot bird species because the mongooses ate their eggs instead of eating the rats.

        • by nbauman (624611)

          I for one welcome our new peregrine falcon overlords.

          We also have (too many) Canadian geese, if that will attract them.

          • by jc42 (318812)

            Picky correction: We have too many Canada geese. "Canadian geese" refers to any geese in Canada, not just that one species.

            In any case, I don't think peregrines ever take on a Canada goose, which is far to large for them. A pigeon is about the biggest thing they normally eat.

            To control the Canada geese, you need something the size of a coyote or wolf - or a human. Nothing else much ever brings them down (other than an occasional airplane).

            But they are pretty good to eat. Messy to clean, though. You wo

        • It might be interesting to try introducing meerkats in a few areas. They're incredibly cute, and they also like to eat rodents. They also like to make burrows, and could probably invade a lot of the rodents' turfs. There are some other mongooses (mongeese?) that also have potential for urban rodent control.

          The entire business of introducing non-native species to solve a local problem can be held up as a perfect example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Here in Jamaica mongooses are extremely common a

    • by DarthBart (640519)

      And this is why my cats all stay inside.

    • by Bo'Bob'O (95398)

      Coyote won't normally attack house pets unless sick or on the verge of starving, which is exactly when they would also be close enough to human populations to be 'sighted'. It seems perfectly reasonable that such attacks would be very rare from a small, managed number of them.

    • by DannyO152 (544940)

      Yep. Some fairly tony canyons are within a mile. They have coyotes, lose pets on occasion, and have rats.

  • http://urbancoyoteresearch.com/Coyote_Project.htm [urbancoyoteresearch.com] seems like a much more likely reason than pest controll
  • by intellitech (1912116) * on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @07:57PM (#34338230)

    Should be interesting to see how many outdoor, domesticated cats get shredded by these guys.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EllisDees (268037)

      Keep your cat inside and it won't be a problem.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Who the hell has an outdoor cat in the loop??

    • by Jaktar (975138)

      And now we just need one roadrunner released to keep the wiley coyote population in check.

  • by Grapplebeam (1892878) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @07:57PM (#34338232)
    sort of small, furry creature, say one with a long furry tail, specifically bred for this purpose over the past several hundred years that people wouldn't mind seeing around... Maybe one that enjoys drinking milk and- ah hell, screw the sarcasm. Why didn't they just use cats??
    • Why didn't they just use cats??

      Because cats just sit around all day on their fat asses, and can't be bothered with doing anything, until they turn up their noses at the can of tuna fish that you opened.

      Chicago probably has plenty of cats . . . they just prefer Cat Chow as opposed to having to trot out of the house to hunt for their meal, like the rest of us.

      On the other hand, every time that humans try to transplant varmints and critters into someplace that they don't belong . . . it always ends in tears . . .

    • by mirix (1649853)

      that people wouldn't mind seeing around...

      Speak for yourself. I'll take the coyotes.

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      Because animal control is all about rounding up stray cats and dogs (and advising you to spay/neuter the ones you have as pets, to boot). I am underqualified to comment on the overall desirability of this practice, but it clearly works against the goal of widespread rodent-eating.
    • by hey! (33014)

      Well, if you feel that way, get a move on, Dick Whittington. There's a fortune to be made.

    •   Because the local animal control was too busy trying to reduce the numbers of feral cats?

      SB

  • wait until they start building up noticeable herds.
  • Well... (Score:4, Funny)

    by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @07:58PM (#34338248) Journal
    We know that coyotes suck at catching roadrunners (or at least one of them does), and roadrunners aren't much bigger than some rodents. Anyone wanna take odds on the rats and mice winning this round as well?
  • Mongoose (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samullin (1850996) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @08:01PM (#34338262)
    Reminds me of introducing mongoose to the Hawaiian islands to eat the rats - now there are two invader species there. Coyotes may not be as much of an invader species in Chicago as mongoose are in Hawaii, but we as a species have a pretty poor track record of attempted ecological control.
  • Finally... (Score:5, Funny)

    by webbiedave (1631473) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @08:04PM (#34338284)
    ... a sensible solution to weed out corrupt Chicago politicians!
    • It is funny or sad that this was also my first thought when I read the synopsis?

      I'm not so sure that I should laugh...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by shadowbearer (554144)

      ... a sensible solution to weed out corrupt Chicago politicians!

        Coyotes... with rocket launchers mounted on their backs.

        I'd vote for that.

      SB

  • .... No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
  • Coyotes eat lots of stuff. So maybe not many chickens in the loop, but how about pet cats? I guess they probably already need to be indoor cats I suppose.

  • before Brooklyn brings in coyotes to take care of its new possum problem [slashdot.org]...

  • by yariv (1107831) <yariv.yaari@gmail.cTEAom minus caffeine> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @08:46PM (#34338548)
    Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
    Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
    Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?
    Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
    Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
    Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
  • In case anyone missed it: reintroduction program [xkcd.com]
  • by RenHoek (101570) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @08:56PM (#34338612) Homepage

    'Look, I can explain,' he said.
              Lord Vetinari lifted an eyebrow with the care of one who, having found
    a piece of caterpillar in his salad, raises the rest of the lettuce.
              'Pray do,' he said, leaning back.
              'We got a bit carried away,' said Moist. 'We were a bit too creative in
    our thinking. We encouraged mongooses to breed in the posting boxes to keep
    down the snakes...'
              Lord Vetinari said nothing.
              'Er... which, admittedly, we introduced into the posting boxes to
    reduce the numbers of toads...'
              Lord Vetinari repeated himself.
              'Er... which, it's true, staff put in the posting boxes to keep down
    the snails...'
              Lord Vetinari remained unvocal.
              'Er... These, I must in fairness point out, got into the boxes of their
    own accord, in order to eat the glue on the stamps,' said Moist, aware that
    he was beginning to burble.
              'Well, at least you were saved the trouble of having to introduce them
    yourselves,' said Lord Vetinari cheerfully. 'As you indicate, this may well
    have been a case where chilly logic should have been replaced by the common
    sense of, perhaps, the average chicken. But that is not the reason I asked
    you to come here today.'
              'If it's about the cabbage-flavoured stamp glue -- ' Moist began.
              Vetinari waved a hand. 'An amusing incident,' he said, 'and I believe
    nobody actually died.'

  • This is just a corporation using it's political connections in order to save huge amounts on shipping costs.
    ACME Manufacturing, we are on to you!
  • by MushingBits (1220624) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @09:55PM (#34338928)

    Coyotes are endemic to most of the North American continent. They were here before long before there was a 'Public' to get hysterical about them. I would be willing to bet that animal control in nearly every major city in the lower 48 can tell you stories about coyotes making a living in urban areas- this is NOTHING NEW, but is probably noticed more frequently as fewer people in outlying areas are shooting them on sight these days.

    Coyotes frequent my rural property, although I only find out about it when I find their tracks or scat or- more rarely- hear a nocturnal sing-along happening close by. Over the years I've picked apart quite bit of coyote poop with a stick, and as the article suggests there are a lot of obvious rodent bones usually included with a smattering of deer hair (I suspect they go back to road/winter/cougar kill and chew on the hide, which takes months to break down). Sometimes it's obvious they've been feasting on ripe native berries. If I happen to see one while hiking, mountain biking, driving, etc. it's usually just a flash and they're already gone, but a couple times I've been able to spot one out on a hay field obviously pouncing on mice. It's a rare treat to find "God's Dog" out and about doing it's thing, as under normal circumstances they are highly motivated to keep human interactions both infrequent and distant.

    Feral cats on the other hand are NOT endemic to the North American ecosystem, and there is evidence to suggest that bird populations have been hit very hard by them. Even discounting that aspect, I can't even wrap my head around why any thoughtful person would advocate for exterminating a relatively harmless native scavenger-predator and replacing it with a non-native, domesticated scavenger-predator. This is just asking for unintended ecological consequences.

    • by Entropius (188861)

      Mod parent up.

      I'm in a big city with some coyotes, and tons of coyotes all over the desert outside. The people who live near the desert sometimes get their little fluffy critters eaten, but -- by what? It's either coyotes, or bobcats, or the giant owls that will eat pretty much anything smaller than them. Some of them probably run afoul of rattlesnakes, too, which we have about a zillion of.

      Coyotes, along with bobcats and owls and snakes, are part of nature. They eat stuff, and if you keep little stupid cre

  • Heck, in Chicago the coyote could get elected to public office.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Darth_brooks (180756) *

      No it couldn't. Don't be daft.

      It might be able to vote several hundred times in multiple districts & precincts, but unless the Coyote is somehow related to a member of the Daley family (and I'm sure they fall under either the rodent or slimy lizard genus) it would never get elected.

  • I live in Chicago, the city - not a suburb, around O'Hare. I saw a coyote on my way home from work last week. It was about 5:30 in the afternoon, the coyote was watching rush hour traffic roll by standing on the side of the road. I've seen them around here my whole life, I'm 32. The coyotes have been around here far longer than us humans have, it's native here - not like introducing some weird outside creature. They aren't that big, smaller than the pitbulls around here, I don't see what the big deal is?
  • Since when are rabbits are a problem?

  • How many people that have never seen a Coyote in their life can reply to this article with ridiculous misinformation? Coyotes are larger in northern Canada, but even there are never larger than a medium sized dog (50lbs or so) The ones in the Wisconsin/Illinois area are slightly larger than a cat... less than 20lbs. They eat mostly mice, birds and maybe rats. Cats are way too large for your average Coyote, and even if they were to target a cat, cats can easily avoid them simply by going vertical. Coyotes ca
  • by SharpFang (651121) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:18AM (#34340688) Homepage Journal

    ...until rocket-powered anvils and explosive-loaded pianos start hitting buildings as a collateral damage of coyotes fighting the vermin.

  • by indytx (825419) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @09:16AM (#34341978)

    “He’s not a threat. He’s not going to pick up your children,” Block said.

    What an idiot. Coyotes kill pets, and evidence from the Carolinas indicates they are now affecting deer populations by decimating the survival rates of fawns. Coyotes are dangerous, and they attack humans. There were 142 attacks on humans between 1960 and 2006. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coyotes-suburban-attacks [scientificamerican.com]

    Coyotes have spread naturally to all lower 48 states because of declines in wolf populations. Another interesting tidbit is that the coyote is the only predator in North America whose recorded population has NEVER decreased, only increased. Why someone would give such an adaptable predator a leg up when it is doing fine is completely beyond me.

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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