Meeting to deal with rise in coyote sightings
By David Sharos For The Sun July 21, 2012 10:20PM
A coyote roams the ground of a cemetery in Naperville last July. Coyote sightings are on the rise throughout the Chicago area. | File Photo
Naperville’s Animal Control Department offers these tips for dealing with coyotes:
Do not encourage coyotes by feeding them
Keep pet food and water dishes inside
Keep barbecue grills clean
Do not keep garbage cans outside, if possible
Clear aways bushes and dense weeds that coyotes might use to seek cover
If you see a coyote, make loud noises to scare them off. Do not be submissive, turn your back or run
Never leave dogs or cats unattended in a yard and always keep them inside at night
Keep yard well illuminated
Updated: August 23, 2012 10:41AM
Coyote sighting are up in Naperville, and city officials are looking to do something about it.
The city will hold an education forum on coyotes at 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St. The event will include a presentation by Jack MacRae, a naturalist with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
Coyotes are described by experts as “opportunistic predators” and here in Naperville, more have begun showing up in recent months.
There have been a number of sightings in places like the West Wind neighborhood in the west-central part of the city, where residents say coyotes have been spotted even before folks turn off the lights and go to bed.
Other spots that have seen coyote sightings in the past include the Buttonwood subdivision and the retention ponds located near May Watts Elementary School, as well as many areas on the outskirts of the city.
While the number of sightings and attacks isn’t huge, they are sufficient enough to prompt the city’s Police Animal Control Unit to offer the upcoming presentation at the Municipal Center.
Joanne Aul of Naperville’s Animal Control Unit said there have been reports of coyote attacks and sightings at both the city’s north and south end, including a dog that was attacked last week and another at the end of 2011.
“Usually these attacks occur when a pet is inside an electric fence or the coyotes jump over a fence,” she said.
Aul said coyotes adapt quickly to seeing animal control vans and people in uniform and that “the public needs to be involved in the hazing of these animals.”
“Studies have shown that, unlike dogs, the coyotes are not aggressive and won’t retaliate if people make noise and are loud and boisterous,” she said.
Director of DuPage County Animal Care and Control Kerry Vinkler said that people need to be aware of coyotes in their area.
“The Department of Natural Resources handles many of these cases and Naperville has its own Animal Control unit, but these are opportunistic predators that live among us and my guess is people feel there are more of them because awareness is increasing,” Vinkler said. “We had some additional sightings of them here in Wheaton last year, and now people are reporting them in Naperville.”
Vinkler said the recent drought and severe conditions may be forcing the animals to become bolder as they search for resources.
“With the lack of rain and heat we’ve had, these animals may be moving closer to homes in search of water or a place to find shelter,” she said. “The problem with people is they see one of these coyotes and run away inside. The idea is to make a lot of noise and stir things up, otherwise the animals feel like there are no obstacles and they’ve won.”
Aul adds that providing a food source or shelter for the animals may lure then closer to humans, a problem that Sandy Sejt, educational site manager at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center, said occurs more here since “these are urban, not rural coyotes.”
“These animals are around people and are probably more obvious as they have their young early in the spring, and now they are looking for food and shelter,” Sejt said. “Anything from gardens to ornamental food trees to garbage can attract them.”
Sejyt said the wildlife center receives thousands of calls a year about coyotes.
“People do need to be aware what can lure these animals and they should not leave their pets unattended,” she said. “Many of these coyotes are quite skinny and the humanitarian person might be tempted to feed them out of worry that they’ll starve. Our dogs, by comparison, are couch potatoes. These coyotes are marathon runners and being lean is how they survive.”