Yale researchers record urban wildlife in Detroit parks

Dr. Nyeema C. Harris has been leading an ongoing research project for the past five years. Cameras are currently in about 25 Detroit parks.

Researcher looks at an image of a cat holding a rabbit in its mouth. The image was taken in a Detroit park and is part of an ongoing research project on urban wildlife.

Dr. Nyeema C. Harris holds up a black and white image on her phone of a cat in the woods with a rabbit hanging out of its mouth.

This photo was taken on one of the cameras that she and her team began hiding in Detroit parks five years ago. The researchers have been using the footage to observe urban wildlife.

“The primary question we were interested in is around coexistence,” says Harris, an associate professor in the School of the Environment at Yale University and the director of the Applied Wildlife Ecology Lab.  “This idea of, okay, wildlife are in the city and they are forced to interact or adjust or adapt in order to live in a city with people, so what are those strategies?”

As part of an episode of the CuriosiD podcast, WDET’s Laura Herberg met up with Harris in a park to learn more about the research project.

Listen: Yale researchers record urban wildlife in Detroit parks


Harris aims to make it clear that the cameras are to record animals, not people. That’s why her team posts signs informing the public about the project in the parks where they collect footage.


Above: Click an image above to enlarge. Photo Credit: Applied Wildlife Ecology (AWE) Lab, Yale School of the Environment

For future research, Harris wants to follow the movement patterns of coyotes and other predators like foxes and raccoons. Harris says her team hopes to begin pilot work for that research by the end of the year, with a full launch in 2024.

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  • Laura Herberg
    Laura Herberg is a Reporter for 101.9 WDET, telling the stories about people inhabiting the Detroit region and the issues that affect us here.