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Coyote Alert: Precautions After Urban Pup Population Swells

The number of coyotes on the north side has spiked, so top researchers are sharing how to keep them away from your home and what to do if you see one.

On Saturday, one Roscoe Village resident posted a message online saying she caught a glimpse of a coyote running around in plain sight.

“My fiance and I just saw a coyote running down the sidewalk on Wolcott and Newport,” Debbie posted on EveryBlock. “Luckily he turned the corner and ran east on Newport away from us and our two dogs. I've heard they're around but it was pretty surprising!”

And Debbie’s not alone. Residents in and around Lincoln Park are all relaying the same message, sometimes noticing the coyote in broad daylight. There’s even videos of coyotes trotting down city streets in Lake View.

Spotting a coyote is no coincidence either. While there are no official numbers, animal control agencies removed just 20 coyotes from Chicago in 1989, according to the Chicago Tribune. That’s compared to upwards of 400 annually in recent years. 

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However, while officials say there’s very little threat to humans, residents are advised to keep their eyes peeled and avoid some common mistakes to keep the peace, especially for pets that may become prey.

The Cook County Coyote Project is a massive study of coyotes in the Chicago metropolitan area, tagging more than 300 adult coyotes in 10 years, according to CBS Chicago. Researches with the study outline specifics on how to recognize if a coyote is living in your area, and what not to do if you spot one.

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 off is howling. Coyotes are known to advertise their territory to others by howling, and according to residents of EveryBlock, there’s been plenty of that.

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. 

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