Please Don't Feed the Coyotes — And Other Useful Tips For Coyote Coexistence

Please Don’t Feed the Coyotes — And Other Useful Tips For Coyote Coexistence

Kane County Connects has received a number of recent reports from residents who have spotted a greater number of coyotes in their residential neighborhoods as the cold weather has arrived. A few say they’ve seen larger-than-usual coyotes, as well, making recent comment on an earlier Kane County Connects article about the proliferation of coywolves in Illinois.

The Kane County Chronicle reported Wednesday the sad story of a Yorkie that was attacked and killed by a coyote in St. Charles.

Because the cold weather sometimes brings coyotes a little further out of the woods in search of food, Kane County Animal Control offers three good online PDF resources to learn more about the animals, which are reported to be the largest wild predators in Illinois: Coexisting With Coyotes, Coyote Awareness and Coyote Facts.

One of the coyote facts was a bit surprising, at least to the Kane County Connects editor: that coyotes are harvested during regulated hunting and trapping seasons. According to the fact sheet:

“An average of 7,000 coyotes is harvested each year in Illinois. About 75 percent  of these are taken by hunters; 25 percent by trappers. The trapping season is  restricted to the fall and winter months, while the hunting season is open year-round. A liberal hunting season allows landowners to remove problem  animals without having to obtain a special permit. Biologists monitor the population to ensure that hunting and trapping do not negatively impact the population.”

In addition to the Kane County information, the city of Aurora is offering the following FAQs under the headline, “Please Don’t Feed the Coyotes”:

Useful Tips To Making Your Neighborhood Undesirable To Coyotes

Q: I thought coyotes were wild animals. Why are they in my neighborhood?

A: They are wild animals. However, as area open lands have decreased over the past three decades and human population has increased, coyotes have not only survived but have adjusted. While they still make their homes in wooded and open areas they have ventured into surrounding neighborhoods primarily to search for food.

Q: Are coyotes a danger to my family?

A: Most coyotes are leery of people and tend to stay away from humans. However, like any wild animal, they can be unpredictable and dangerous. While attacks on humans are very rare, young children should never be left unattended. Coyotes pose a significant threat to small pets.

Q: What happens if I encounter a coyote?

A: If you see or are approached by a coyote, you should exhibit caution. Do not run away. Instead, yell, wave your arms, and/or throw an object at the animal. It is also a good idea to carry a walking stick. Immediately report any coyote sightings to the Aurora Animal Control Division at 630-256-3630, 24 hours a day. In the case of a coyote attack on a human, call 911.

Q: How is the city of Aurora addressing coyotes in neighborhoods?

A: The safety of our residents is the city’s utmost concern. Aurora’s Animal Control Division responds to all reports of coyote attacks around the clock. While Aurora’s Animal Control Division investigates coyote sightings during normal business hours, coyotes rarely linger in populated areas. By the time our Animal Control officers reach an area, the coyotes have typically retreated and are no longer visible. The best way to decrease coyotes in neighborhoods is to partner with our citizens to make affected areas undesirable to coyotes.

Q: What can I do to make my home and neighborhood undesirable to coyotes?

A: The biggest tip is don’t feed the coyotes either intentionally or by accident! Ninety percent of a coyote’s diet is small mammals but they will also eat birds, snakes, insects, fish, fruit, and vegetables. They can be attracted to bird and squirrel feeders, bread that is fed to ducks and geese, pet food that is left outside, and other unintentional food sources. Therefore:

  • Keep pet food and food and water dishes inside especially at night.
  • Keep grills and barbecues clean. Even the smallest food scraps may attract a coyote.
  • Do not keep garbage cans outside if possible or at the very least, make sure the containers have tight-fitting lids.
  • Make sure ripe fruit and vegetables are picked from gardens.
  • Stop feeding other wildlife or at the very least, do not allow spillage to accumulate outside of the feeders.
  • When coyotes find these types of food sources in residential areas they may lose their fear of humans and eventually test both people and pets as prey.

Q: How do I keep my family pets safe?

A: It is important that dogs, cats, and other pets, especially those smaller in size, not be left unwatched while outside. Pet doors should also be secured and remember that “invisible fencing” is ineffective on coyotes. Coyotes can also be attracted to free-ranging domestic and feral cats. Domestic cats should be kept inside.

Q: Where can I get more information?

A: More information on coyotes is available by visiting Aurora’s website, or by calling the city of Aurora’s Animal Control division at 630-256-3630. There is also excellent resource information on the animals at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources