Coyotes may not have a reputation for being city dwellers—unlike say, rats or pigeons—but in recent years, scientists have discovered that there are large and thriving urban coyote populations across North America, even in cities as big as Chicago and Los Angeles

In L.A., the National Park Service is studying local coyote populations to figure out how they live in cities and what role they play in the local ecosystem. Since last year, the NPS has been using GPS collars to track several different coyotes that live in L.A. neighborhoods around the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Now, they’re looking for volunteers to help them figure out what these coyotes eat, LAist reports. 

The park service is looking for up to 30 volunteers to help collect and analyze coyote poop several times a month at certain locations in and around the city. All you have to do is show up for a day of training, and volunteer at least one full day to collect scat. Citizen scientists will also help identify what’s in the poop (and thus, what the coyotes have been eating) for a few days a month. The researchers plan to continue the volunteer scat collection for at least two years. 

Hopefully, the project will yield important insight into how coyotes live in L.A., leading to better management of urban coyote populations in the future. 

The NPS researchers have already been surprised by the hidden lives of the coyotes they have been tracking with GPS. One tracked coyote, known as C-144, has raised several pups in the urban town of Westlake (one can be seen on someone’s porch in the image above). She has even managed to cross the freeway on multiple occasions—typically a firm barrier for wildlife.

Volunteer for poop duty here.

[h/t LAist]

All images courtesy National Park Service via Flickr // Public Domain