How to discourage coyotes from visiting your subdivision


Photo: Jared Hughey, Illinois DNR

Residents of Chicory Ridge and other subdivisions are seeing coyotes more frequently, and not just on the wilderness edges of their neighborhoods. The Village of Roscoe is planning on advancing a management plan to deal with the problem. 

Village of Roscoe Trustee Anthony Keene, who lives in Chicory Ridge, is seeing a tendency for coyotes to "start being less afraid of interacting with humans. I would hate to see some child thinking it was a puppy or a dog and getting bit."

Village Administrator Scott Sanders, who has been investigating the problem, notes that while coyote sightings at a distance are not rare in northern Illinois, sightings at close range are more rare, and contacts with humans are extremely rare. Still, he has been researching solutions. He reports that Winnebago County Animal Services, though they may pick up stray pets, will not respond to a coyote report "unless it's clearly and visibly sick." 

Likewise, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says, "As long as they are given their space, and they are not injured or being fed by people, coyotes do not typically pose a threat to people... Usually it will be easier to change human and domestic animal use of an area than to capture the coyote." They say that, even in the daytime, it's normal to see a coyote resting in a park or crossing through a yard. 

If a specific coyote is causing damage, a homeowner can call a licensed animal removal specialist. Roscoe has two: Jim's Nuisance Wildlife Control and Critters Gone Urban. But on a larger scale, killing, hunting, or trapping/removing is largely inefficient. In a study of twelve coyotes which had been moved to another area, the Cook County Coyote Project found that all of of them were heading back to where they came from within 48 hours. "Whatever attracted them [to a neighborhood] in the first place will attract more," says Sanders. The DNR is not interested in eliminating this fur-bearing animal, which helps keep mice under control. So a coyote management plan must also be a coyote co-existence plan.

The problem? In a neighborhood, according to the Humane Society, coyotes can lose their natural, healthy fear of humans. To correct that, the Humane Society recommends "hazing." This doesn't hurt or embarrass coyotes, which is more than can be said for hazing in college fraternities. According to the DNR, don't run if a coyote approaches you. Remember that coyotes are naturally more afraid of people than people are afraid of coyotes. If they can run away from your threat, they will. 

Coyote hazing involves:

  • Making noise, shouting, blowing an air horn, ringing a bell, banging pot lids or pie pans, shaking cans of marbles or pennies
  • Waving your arms to make yourself look bigger, stomping your feet
  • Throwing things toward (not at) the coyote, such as sticks, small rocks, cans, or small balls.
  • Spraying the coyote with hoses or water guns - you can add vinegar to the water for extra emphasis. You could use pepper spray if that didn't work, but it probably will.

If the coyote doesn't completely leave the area, but stops a distance away to look at you, your job isn't done. Don't let the coyote win. Continue hazing with more intensity, walk toward the coyote, or use a different hazing method.  If the coyote comes back, repeat. If your children see a coyote, teach them to act like a big, scary monster 

Residents can reduce coyote activity around their homes by not feeding them, even unintentionally. Don't give them access to outdoor pet food, bird food, ripe fruit, or garbage. Pet owners can protecttheir unattended small animals and birds by using fencing or runs. Shorter leashes are effective. When you walk your dog on a six-foot leash, a coyote won't bother your pet - the coyote wants to stay more than six feet away from you.

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