Have you seen any coyotes lurking around town recently? If so, you're among the scores of Patch readers who've already sent in their spotting locations. Now, we're not telling you this to scare you. In fact, according to the Cook County Coyote Project, there hasn't been a documented case of a coyote attacking a human in Illinois since at least 1985—the beginning range of the study. On top of that, there have only been two cases of coyotes killing a human in the U.S. and Canada in modern history.
That said, residents are indeed reporting interactions with local coyotes and we want to keep those numbers from getting any higher. The Cook County Coyote Project website says one of the best ways to prevent coyote conflict is to avoid feeding them, whether that be intentional or not.
Furthermore, coyotes typically come out at night. If you see a coyote during the day, that's indication the animal may be more bold and therefore more likely to attack. If you ever find yourself in this situation, the study recommends you yell, wave your arms and try to throw something at the coyote. Never run away!
While coyotes have been known to attack pets, the Cook County Coyote Project says coyotes do not frequently attack dogs, and when they do, they tend to be smaller dogs. Cats, on the other hand, may represent more alluring targets. Don't lose too much sleep over it, though. The vast majority of a coyote's diet is made up of mice and rats.
Do I Live Near a Coyote?
There are three signs residents might overlook that are telltale signs a coyote has visited the area.
The fist sign officials at the Cook County Coyote Project lists is howling. Coyotes are known to advertise their territory to others by howling.
Second, while it may not be the most pleasant sign, officials say to keep an eye out for coyote droppings. Mixed with hair and pieces of bone, they’re easily distinguishable from dog droppings.
And lastly, residents should look for tracks. Officials say these can be tough to distinguished from a large dog, but they should not be overlooked.
Five Ways to Avoid Conflicts
Researchers with the Cook County Coyote Project also outline five steps residents should follow to avoid conflicts with a wild coyote.
First and most importantly, do not feed coyotes, whether intentional or not. While coyotes aren’t necessarily interested in pet food, bird feeders or garbage, those items attract other rodents that the wild animals feed on.
Second, don’t let pets run loose outside, especially domestic cats. Coyotes also occasionally might kill dogs, and if they do, it will be a smaller breed.
Third, never run from a coyote, as it’ll trigger its natural instinct to chase. Instead, shout at the animal, or throw something in its direction to scare it away.
Fourth, researchers say repellents or fencing might help deter coyotes. “Repellents may involve remotely activated lights or sound-making devices,” researchers reported. “Fencing may keep coyotes out of a yard, particularly if it is more than four feed in height with a roll bar across the top.”
And lastly, report aggressive or fearless coyotes immediately. If the animal isn’t scared away by shouting or is barking in a yard or playground, the coyote should be reported to police as soon as possible.
If you run into what you think might be considered a "nuisance" coyote, don't hesitate to call Cook County Animal Control at 708-974-6046.
If you've spotted a coyote recently, let us know in the comments and we'll add the location to our map
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