If you are lucky enough to live near land that still supports wildlife, you may meet one of your neighbors, the coyote. By learning about local wildlife, humans and animals can peacefully coexist.
Facts about Coyotes
• Coyotes weigh 20-45 pounds and look like a small, tan German Shepherd.
• Coyotes occupy wetlands, agricultural lands, parks, and neighboring forest preserves.
• Coyotes may live alone, in pairs or in packs.
• Coyotes are active during both night and day and help control rodent and small mammal populations.
• Coyotes feed opportunistically on a variety of small mammals, insects, and fruit, but prefer rodents and rabbits.
Keeping Coyotes at a Distance
Coyotes are drawn to neighborhoods for two reasons: human encroachment into coyote habitat and availability of food, water, and shelter. The following steps can help prevent coyotes from being attracted to your home:
• Tightly secure garbage cans with bungee cords or rope. Store trash bins inside sheds or garages.
• Put garbage out the morning of pickup, not the night before.
• When composting, use well-secured bins. Don’t add dog or cat waste, meat, dairy or eggs.
• Never leave or store pet food outside.
• Keep outdoor grills clean.
• Pick ripe fruit off trees and remove fallen fruit off the ground.
• Keep bird feeders from overflowing.
• Fence vegetable gardens.
• Eliminate artificial water sources.
• Install motion-activated outdoor lighting.
• Fence your property or yard. The fence must be no more than 5-feet tall with the bottom extending at least 3 in. below the ground.
• Clear bushes and dense weeds where coyotes may find cover and small animals to feed upon.
• Close off crawl spaces under porches, decks, and sheds.
Note: Trapping and relocating coyotes is not recommended (and is illegal in some states/localities). Disruption of families can cause orphaned juveniles to seek easy prey, including small dogs and cats. Other coyotes are likely to move into the vacated area.
Keeping Domestic Animals Safe
Although primarily rodent/rabbit eaters and scavengers, coyotes may view cats, and small dogs as prey, while larger dogs may be viewed as a threat, particularly during mating (Dec.-Feb.), breeding (April-May), and dispersal (Sept.-Oct.) seasons.
• Keep companion animals inside at night.
• Do not allow companion animals to roam free.
• Never leave or store pet food outside.
• Walk your dog on a leash. If your yard is unfenced, use a leash on your property and do not leave your dog unsupervised while leashed.
• Spay or neuter your dogs. Coyotes can mate with unsterilized dogs.
• Install motion-sensing outdoor lighting.
If You Encounter a Coyote
Coyotes usually avoid people, but may become unafraid because of intentional or unintentional feeding. Coyotes must be encouraged to fear people.
• Never feed or attempt to ‘tame’ a coyote.
• Do not turn your back on or run from a coyote; if approached, make loud noises and make yourself look big.
• If necessary, throw sticks or small stones (to scare, not injure).
• Always keep yourself between a coyote and small children or companion animals.
• Use a powerful water hose or Super Soaker water gun to scare a coyote away.
• If walking where there are coyotes, carry a deterrent such as an air horn, whistle, or walking stick.
• Because coyotes will use the same trails at the same time of day, consider periodically changing your walking schedule and route.
Note: Coyotes are not considered a disease threat. They often reduce density of the skunk and fox populations, who are more likely to be infected with the rabies virus. They also prey on the expanding Canadian Geese population.
Please Share This With Your Neighbors
Your efforts may be futile if someone else is providing food or shelter for coyotes. Remember coexistence is a neighborhood effort! For More information on Coyotes, search these web links:
Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources
DuPage County Forest Preserve District
Coexisting with Coyotes – Video Public Service Announcement
The Humane Society of the U.S.A.
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