Mostly Trapping

Urban coyotes and the politics of wildlife
Dec 12, 2019 09:07 ET
Coyotes have incorporated themselves into nearly every major city in North America. As apex predators, coyotes’ ability to thrive in cities testifies not only to the blurring of human-wildlife boundaries in an urbanizing world; it also undermines the idea that cities and suburbs are places where people do not have to contend with wild predators. In cities where coyotes have become established more recently, the timing of their arrival has overlapped with an ongoing reevaluation, in science and in society, of the role of wild animals in urban settings. As part of this reevaluation, conservation scientists are deemphasizing human-wildlife conflict in favor of tolerance and coexistence. And human-animal studies scholars are generating politically and ethically more inclusive multispecies accounts of city life that seek to take seriously wild animals as social actors, both in how they interact with humans and in their own right. How do such calls for more egalitarian human-wildlife relationalities resonate in public debates about urban coyotes? Based on an interpretive media analysis of discussions prompted by reports of coyote sightings in Facebook community pages, we investigate how residents of two cities where coyotes are relative newcomers—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Chino/Chino Hills, California—attempt to make sense of the arrival of these wild canines.