Studying how carnivores live and interact with people across urban and suburban areas in the Seattle region.

Program Overview


Urban spaces and the suburbs that sprawl around them are growing worldwide, pushing some carnivore species into more remote regions, while forcing others to adapt to higher human densities. Increasing contact between humans and carnivores potentially leads to more human-carnivore interactions and increased concerns over risk to humans, whether real or perceived.

Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle University are launching a new project to explore how mammalian carnivores, such as coyotes, foxes, raccoons, bobcats, and even cougars and bears live and interact with people across urban and suburban areas in the Seattle region.



How You Can Participate

Woodland Park Zoo is working with our staff, volunteers and community partners to deploy camera traps in city and county parks across the Seattle regions. We have also launched our Carnivore Spotter website where you can record your carnivore sightings. Visit carnivorespotter.org now to report your local carnivore sightings and explore sightings throughout Seattle!

Carnivore Spotter

Project Goals


Engage the Local Community

Seattle-area residents, university students, and Woodland Park Zoo volunteers will learn how to deploy and check remote cameras in their neighborhoods. This will enhance participants' understanding of which animals occur around them in the city, foster valuable science skills, and contribute to data collection.

Implement Strategies for Human-Carnivore Coexistence

We will use the findings from this project to support communities in facilitating solutions to achieve positive coexistence with carnivores. People living in the Seattle area can contribute to advancing our scientific knowledge about urban carnivores, as well as build the skills and knowledge necessary to address real-world ecological problems. To ensure success with these goals, we will take lessons learned from the zoo’s successful Coexisting with Carnivores project with the city of Issaquah.

Collaborate with Other Projects

Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is coordinating the Urban Wildlife Information Network, a partnership of researchers across the country who use the wildlife-monitoring protocols created in Chicago to understand the ecology and behavior of urban wildlife species. By pooling data across multiple North American cities the network is seeking to understand why animals in different cities behave the way they do, and what patterns hold true around the world. Seattle will be the next city to contribute to this amazing initiative.

Increase Our Understanding of Urban Carnivores

The project will focus on answering these key questions:

Which neighborhood characteristics (e.g., structures, human density, trails) attract certain species to certain areas?

How does human behavior, such as trail use and how we dispose of food waste, affect where negative human-carnivore interactions occur…and don’t occur?

How can we better design parks, trails, and habitat connectors to enhance wildlife habitat and promote positive carnivore-human coexistence?

Do carnivores alter their behavior in cities in ways that make them more or less likely to interact with people?

Do some species act as deterrents to other species? For example, do healthy coyote populations help to limit the number of rats in our suburban landscapes?


Frequently asked questions about coyotes and their coexistence in urban environments


Research Methods


Camera Traps

We’ll be using high tech, noninvasive methods such as remote cameras—also called “camera traps”— for addressing these questions. Camera traps permit researchers to learn about wildlife without capturing or otherwise disturbing study species. Camera traps will be placed in urban parks, in remnant forest patches and greenspaces, and in neighborhood yards in cooperation with homeowners.

Citizen Science

We have created a web-based carnivore reporting site – Carnivore Spotter – which allows residents of greater Seattle to report sightings of carnivore species such as coyotes, bobcats and cougars.

Visit carnviorespotter.org to participate now!

Genetic Analysis

Lastly, we’ll be exploring the use of scat collection, combined with cutting-edge genetic analyses, to explore the types of prey and foods that urban carnivores are eating.


Project Managers

Dr. Robert Long
Senior Conservation Scientist, Woodland Park Zoo

Dr. Mark Jordan
Associate Professor, Seattle University

Katie Remine
Living Northwest Conservation Coordinator, Woodland Park Zoo

Contact seattlecarnivores@zoo.org to find out more about the project.


Project Collaborators