AUSTIN (KXAN) — An east Austin man and his brother woke up to some surprising footage captured by their backyard security camera Wednesday.
In the early morning hours, their camera recorded a pair of coyotes roaming through the backyard of their home on Lyons Road, off Lindon Street. One of them can be seen making its way up on their porch while another pair of eyes shine in the background.
Urban Wildlife Biologist Kelly Simon studies animals like coyotes in the downtown Austin core for Texas Parks and Wildlife. She says they’re more common in areas like East Austin than people realize.
Simon says factors like flooding or construction can push coyotes from more rural areas into a downtown area. And once there, she says, they thrive because there’s so much opportunity for food.
“We call them opportunistic, and what that means is they’re really good at finding those things they need to survive,” Simon said.
Simon says while most people tend to worry about the threat to their animals, coyotes will generally go after mice, rats or other rodents before they’ll go after cats or small dogs, she says. Coyotes may be attracted to peoples’ backyards when trash is left out because the trash draws mice and rats. Another reason they might appear in a yard or on a porch is when dog or cat food is left out, or even bird seed.
Simon adds that coyotes adapt to survive when they’re in urban areas.
“They do change their behavior, in that they come out at night more frequently, whereas out in the countryside, you can see a coyote just about anytime day or night,” Simon said. “But, in urban and suburban areas, you usually only see them at night.”
Simon added, “Out in the countryside, it’s really common to hear a pack of coyotes calling or singing. They’re called the song dog for a reason, but in urban and suburban areas, they tend not to vocalize quite so much, so we might have a pack not very far away, but they don’t sing so you don’t realize that they’re actually there.”
Simon says as part of a research project, Texas Parks and Wildlife installed and monitors “game cameras” throughout Austin city parks, and often, coyotes are captured on them.
In the past year, Austin 311 says its operators have gotten more than 500 reports of people seeing or hearing a coyote. More than 73 of those people reported a coyote following or approaching a person, however, no one was hurt in any of those instances. In 62 of the reports, the city says a coyote either acted aggressively, lunged, nipped, or went into someone’s yard and hurt or killed a pet.
Texas Parks and Wildlife has partnered with Huston-Tillotson University for a study, and they’re using the 311 information to learn more about coyote behavior in Austin. Researchers are also attempting to track the coyotes to determine how many are in the area at a given time.
Simon asks that anyone who captures video of a coyote upload it to inaturalist.org, so that scientists can use the footage to help in their research.