A recent increase in coyote sightings in the area has prompted the City of St. Charles to offer the following advice to residents regarding how to avoid problems with these animals.
Coyotes resemble German shepherd dogs and have thick, bushy tails; long, pointy noses and pointy ears. They weigh between 22 to 42 pounds. As creatures of habit, they tend to repeatedly use the same trails at the same time of day and hunt both day and night.
They typically eat mice, squirrels and rabbits, but they will also consume birds, birdseed, pet food, fruit and vegetables. If their preferred food is scarce, coyotes may target small pets; they are capable of taking small cats or dogs, but will rarely strike a supervised pet or dogs weighing 35 pounds or more. A recent report in the Kane County area included a rare coyote attack on an adult deer.
According to Illinois Department of Natural Resources statistics, coyotes have attacked humans just 16 times during 30 years. These incidents usually occur when people try to hand-feed the coyotes, which the DNR said residents should never try to do. Feeding coyotes breaks down their natural fear of humans and can cause them to become unusually aggressive. To avoid as much coyote-human contact as possible, experts recommend securing garbage cans so coyotes don’t turn to them to scavenge for scraps near homes.
Area residents also should avoid leaving pet food outdoors. Dogs should be kept on leashes and cats should be brought indoors at night. When walking small dogs where coyotes may be present, residents should take along a device, such as a walking stick, that can make loud noises. Residents should consider changing their walking routes or schedules if they often see coyotes where they normally walk.
If residents encounter aggressive coyotes, they should avoid that area because a den may be nearby. Coyote pups are born in April and May and will be in the den through June or July. As long as humans do not threaten them or their pups, coyotes will be the first to run away.