Coexist with coyotes here, there and everywhere

UPDATE May 27, 2014: This time of year, coyotes are birthing and raising pups, oftentimes roaming as families of three or four. (Note: Coyotes are not pack animals.) As a result, coyotes may appear bold with more aggressive behavior while protecting their young.  Residents have reported sightings on local subdivisions’ websites in neighborhoods surrounding parks and forest preserves.

coyote-precaution-sign-web

On May 27, caution signs are present in Knoch Knolls Park.

Neighbors just north of Springbrook Prairie and 75th Street also report sightings throughout the year.

Find plenty of information about the lifestyles of coyotes at this link provided by the DuPage County Forest Preserve/ Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

On May 23, 2014, the Naperville Park District issued a news release, “Residents Encouraged to be Alert to Coyote Activity / Birth of pups this time of year could mean coyotes are more prone to aggression.”

Today cyclists down in Knoch Knolls Park reported numerous warning signs along the Bike Path.

During an interview with naturalist Jack MacRae last year, we learned a handy piece of advance for walkers that will send families of coyotes scampering:

Keep a large trash bag in your pocket and shake open to inflate, if necessary. Coyotes don’t like the sound or the movement.

Posted August 6, 2012: Since January 2010, this website has featured resident feedback regarding coyote sightings with the aim to help create awareness about the local coyote population.

At 7PM Aug. 6, the City of Naperville hosted a presentation coordinated by Naperville Animal Control Supervisor Joanne Aul and Commander Ken Parcel of the Naperville Police Department. Forty-two people attended the informative program that included  Q&A.

According to DuPage County Forest Preserve naturalist Jack MacRae, “You have a lot of things to worry about, but the coyote is not one of them.”

That statement is how the experienced wildlife observer ended a nearly two-hour program to educate residents about the growing awareness of the coyote population in DuPage County and six other counties in the Chicago area.

“The Cook County  coyote is the most studied urban coyote in the world,” said MacRae, noting that scientific information is always moving forward as he progressed through a 50-slide Power Point presentation.

Coyotes are everywhere in North America, highly adaptable and highly hunted, weighing on average about 24 pounds. (Adult coyotes typically range in size from 44-54 inches long, 17-20 inches tall at the shoulder and 22-50 pounds.) With more awareness in the media, there have been more sightings, but MacRae is  convinced the coyote population is stabilizing. Plus, trapping to remove the population is not a long-term solution. Research shows that when coyotes are removed, others quickly replace them, he said.

By nature, coyotes are skittish and do not act aggressively toward people or large pets. Still, MacRae urged residents to be responsible pet owners by always supervising  small dogs and cats when they’re outside and keeping them on a leash.

Also, dogs must be kept on leashes in forest preserves, MacRae said.

(For many other reasons, small children always need to be watched when playing outside.)

It’s estimated there are 30,000 to 50,000 coyotes in Illinois. DuPage County provides perfect settings for water and shelter via golf courses, forest preserves, cemeteries, industrial parks and railroad tracks.

The coyote’s bark, yip, yelp or howl can carry 2-3 miles, and it’s usually heard at dawn or dusk.  Howling together is an important social activity for these communicative and curious animals.

(Editor’s Note: Residents in Green Acres have reported hearing the coyotes howl at the sound of the sirens going off at the Public Safety Center.)

Coyote Attacks vs. Dog Bites

“Usually the only thing a coyote is guilty of is being seen,” said MacRae, noting 142 cases of reported coyote attacks in 47 years in all of North America compared to 3 million dog bites per year.  The coyote is the top predator in Illinois, keeping Canada geese in check.

To deter coyotes in your yard…

  • Don’t feed.
  • Don’t approach.
  • Don’t pet.
  • Keep grills and barbecues clean.
  • Clean up around fruit-bearing trees and under bird feeders.
  • Keep garbage containers tightly closed and inaccessible.
  • Always supervise small children and pets when they are outside.
  • Keep dogs and cats on a leash.
  • Prevent coyotes from building dens around your home by keeping open areas sealed and garage doors closed.
  • Keep yards illuminated at dark when you go outside with your pet.

If a coyote encounter occurs…

  • Make loud noises, shout, clap hands.
  • Blow a whistle.
  • Keep a large trash bag in your pocket and shake open to inflate, if necessary.
  • Carry a walking stick.
  • Wave our arms.
  • Stand your ground. Don’t run.
  • Spray it with the garden hose.

Report bold behavior to Forest Preserve District at (630) 933-7200.

Report sick or injured wildlife in Naperville to Naperville Animal Control at (630) 420-6178.

It never hurts to pay attention and be cautious.

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