Submitted by the Naperville Park District.
Coyote sightings in both urban and suburban settings appear to be more frequent.
The good news is that most coyotes prefer to stay away from humans. However, human-coyote encounters have occurred and can be unnerving. Most encounters occur when residents are out walking their dogs.
Coyotes struggle to survive in the wild and they may kill foxes and other similar types of animals to remove competition. Individual coyotes may see domestic dogs in a similar way. This time of year, coyotes are birthing and raising pups. As a result, they may be more prone to bold or aggressive behavior in order to protecting their young.
Here are some recommended steps that residents can take to potentially minimize their exposure to a coyote and hopefully protect themselves and their domestic pets:
- ·Walk dogs on a leash. By City ordinance, all dogs must be on a leash that is 6-feet long or less and under the owner’s direct control at all times. Small dogs may be viewed as potential prey while large dogs may be perceived by coyotes as a threat to themselves or their pups.
- Never leave dogs unattended in the yard and always keep them indoors at night.
- Keep your yard well-illuminated when outdoors at night with your pet.
- Keep cats indoors.
- Do not encourage coyotes by feeding them; coyotes that are fed can lose their fear of people.
- Keep pet food and water dishes inside.
- Keep grills and barbecues clean.
- If possible, do not keep garbage cans outside.
- Clear all bushes and dense weeds near the home where coyotes might go for cover.
Like domestic dogs, coyotes test their limits around humans. Each encounter teaches a coyote something new, and without negative reinforcements, a coyote can develop aggressive habits. Here are some steps to take in the event of a human-coyote encounter:
- Exhibit caution, but be confident and bold. Make loud noises and make yourself look larger by raising your hands above your head or flaring clothing; this type of reaction may help to re-instill a fear of humans.
- Do not be submissive, turn your back, or run.
- If you are followed by a coyote, you are likely walking through its territory and it is merely escorting or “shadowing” you to make sure you are not a threat.
- Although unlikely, if you encounter aggressive behavior, throw clods of earth or sticks near the ground by the coyote first, and then, if necessary, toward its body – never at its head.
It is important to keep in mind that coyotes are an important part of the natural habitat. According to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s website, “Coyotes are vital to ecological balance because they help to keep populations of smaller animals in check.”
For more information about coyotes and other wildlife, visit the following online resources:
- Max McGraw’s Wildlife Foundation’s website: http://www.mcgrawwildlife.org/center-for-wildlife-and-fisheries-management
- Cook County Illinois Coyote Project website: http://www.urbancoyoteresearch.com/About_Coyotes.htm
- Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s website: http://www.dupageforest.org/Education/Education_Centers/Willowbrook/Living_With_Wildlife_in_DuPage_County/Coyotes.aspx
- City of Naperville’s Animal Control: http://naperville.il.us/dynamic_content.aspx?id=6710