BY BRENDA REES
He’s a Silver Lake guy who never ventures south of the 101 Freeway. She’s a mom raising a family on the other side of the 101 but does not mind crossing the freeway to visit Silver Lake and Echo Park. Meet C-145 and C-144, urban coyotes that are being tracked in the name of science as they roam the streets of Echo Park, Historic Filipinotown, Silver Lake and Westlake.
In an effort to better understand how coyotes survive in intensively urbanized areas, researchers from the National Park Services in May captured and GPS-collared these two coyotes to track their movements.
C-144, so named because she is the 144th coyote tracked since the NPS began researching Southern California coyotes, is proving to be a very interesting study. She’s a female, about 2-3 years old, that spends most of her time in an area with very little natural habitat south of the 101 Freeway in the southern edge of Echo Park, Historic Filipinotown and Westlake. She’s also raising at least five pups.
Researchers say that C-144 has one of the most urban home ranges of any coyotes they have ever studied – and she seems to be doing the impossible: she’s routinely crossing the 101 Freeway near Downtown. Since 1996, researchers have studied coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, with the conclusion was that the 101 Freeway was a near-impenetrable barrier to the west.
So how is C-144 managing her incredible freeway avoidance? Maybe she has found alternative routes like bridges or underpasses? Hitching a ride with Uber drivers? It’s too soon to tell.
On the other hand, C-145, a male estimated to be between 4-8 years old with a home range in Silver Lake has not crossed any freeways in his hood. The Silver Lake-centric male has made himself at home in both residential and natural habitats in the area.
Based on a limited GPS data analysis, researchers say that C-144 and C-145 spend most of their time in developed areas, such as along roads and in high-density residential areas. They have been recorded in vacant lots and parks, but not as much. C-144 and C-145’s kin in the Santa Monica Mountains often spend time in at least one square kilometer of natural vegetation – that’s not happening for these two urban canids.
Over time, researchers hope to discover how these animals are using the landscape, how much space they need and what kind of conflict, if any, they are having with humans.
Find out more about C-144 and C-145 at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area’s new urban wildlife blog, Gridlocked.
Coyotes are medium-sized canids that inhabit most of North America. Coyotes in Southern California are often the subject of negative media attention, but serious coyote conflicts with humans are rare. In order to reduce the likelihood of a negative interaction with a coyote, residents should be careful not to feed wildlife, either intentionally or unintentionally. Learn more about co-existing with coyotes at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Keep-Me-Wild/Coyote.
Brenda Rees is a writer and resident of Eagle Rock.