Coyotes are a common species in Illinois, even in urban areas. And urban coyotes become "comfortable" living around people. They are even sometimes seen during the day. But even though they may live near us, we still want them to maintain their natural wariness of people. Here are simple steps to take to help reduce possible conflicts with coyotes:
* Keep garbage stored securely. Coyotes may eat garbage, but they are more attracted to the rodents that feed on garbage. * Keep bird feeding areas clean of debris. Even well-maintained feeders can attract rodents. In turn, this may attract coyotes. * Use squirrel-proof bird feeders. In an urban environment coyotes naturally feed on mice, voles, rabbits, and woodchucks. When natural prey populations decline, it has been shown that squirrels that visit bird-feeders become easy prey for coyotes. * Feed pets indoors. If pets are fed outside clean up any leftover food daily. * Do not leave small pets like rabbits, cats, or small dogs outside unattended, especially at night.
If a coyote tries to come into your yard, you can try banging pots and pans or spraying water towards them with a garden hose to scare them away. If they try to approach you, wave your arms (to make yourself appear larger) and yell. They are naturally curious animals and will want to explore your yard since it is close to their den site. But they should back off if you make it clear that they are not welcome. Coyotes are part of the environment and usually do not pose a threat to people. However, if a coyote is acting aggressively towards people you should notify your neighbors and contact the police or an Illinois Department of Natural Resources district wildlife biologist. If you have more questions about coyotes please feel free to e-mail me.