(Re)storying the More-than-human City: Urban Coyotes in Canada

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Van Patter, Lauren
Animal geographies , More-than-human geography , Coyote , Canis latrans , Urban wildlife , Multispecies city , Urban geography , Wildlife management
The urban is most often constructed in our imaginaries, policies, and practices as a human space, understood in dualistic opposition to ‘nature’, ‘wilderness’, or the ‘rural’. This thesis aims to (re)story the city as a place of more-than-human belonging in three registers: theoretically, methodologically, and in practice. It does so using a case study of urban coyotes in Ontario as a point of entry, mobilizing ‘hybrid’ socio-ecological methods including: participant observation with Coyote Watch Canada, document review, semi-structured interviews, secondary analyses of GPS collar data, field investigations, and trail cameras. First, it (re)stories the city in urban theory by advancing a more-than-human everyday urbanism as a useful analytic for articulating a less anthropocentric reading of the city. It first performs a rhythmanalysis, demonstrating the importance of linear and cyclical rhythms in the spacetimes of human-coyote encounters. It then delves into coyote sensory worlds, illustrating the acoustic and olfactory ecologies which shape urban atmospheres, navigations, and inhabitations. Everyday urbanism shifts the focus from spectacular moments of conflict with wildlife, to a consideration of more-than-human place-making, resituating urban animals as neighbours rather than invaders. Second, this thesis (re)stories the city through a methodological focus on individual animals’ geographies. It relays narratives of two urban coyotes and their kin, Urban10 and Blondie, whose unique experiences are gleaned through hybrid socio-ecological research methods. Their stories become ones of synanthropy and cynanthropy – of animals learning to thrive in ‘human-dominated’ environments, and of the imaginative exercises of ‘becoming coyote’ required of multispecies researchers endeavouring to generate knowledge collaboratively with other-than-humans. Third, it (re)stories coyotes within urban wildlife management scholarship and practice by advancing a set of best practices for aversion conditioning (humane hazing) to mitigate human-coyote conflicts in urban areas. It challenges traditional language, characterizations of behaviours, and policy options, enabling an alternate set of compassionate responses that do not presume coyotes as incongruous with urban life, or the inevitability of animal death for human convenience. Overall, this thesis contributes to emerging dialogues at the intersection of more-than-human, animal, and urban geographies, as well as wildlife management, (re)storying the city towards livable multispecies futures.
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