Coyote mating and whelping season is coming to a close, but coyotes could still be more visible and aggressive while they wean new pups. The Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control (ARC) is reminding residents to keep their pets safe from coyote encounters by offering the following tips:
- In areas near heavily wooded parts of Cook County, studies have found that cats can be a substantial part of coyote’s diet. This time of year, it’s essential to keep your cats indoors, especially at night.
- Small dogs are also a food source as well as a perceived threat to coyotes looking after their own pups. This time of year, small dogs should be supervised at all times in the backyard, especially after dark. Barking may also attract coyotes so it’s important to stay alert.
- Switch up your routine. Coyotes are smart and can learn your schedule. If you always let Fido out or take him for a walk at a certain time, coyotes will learn that and be ready at that time.
- Feral cats should be fed during daylight hours and food should never be left out. That can be a welcome invitation for coyotes.
- Walk dogs on a short leash and always be aware of your surroundings.
- Bird feeders attract small mammals looking for food that may have fallen from the feeder. Raking and removing the bird feed from the ground will keep small mammals and coyote from being attracted.
- Most coyotes are naturally very shy of human contact, but if you encounter a coyote on a walk make yourself very big and loud to scare it away. Carrying and using a whistle, bell or horn can help scare them away as well. You can also jump around and bang on garbage cans or whatever is nearby.
The population of coyotes roughly doubles in Cook County during mating and whelping season. By the end of winter, disease and other events brings the population back to its normal size of approximately 2,000.
“Although we’re nearing the end of coyote mating and whelping season, don’t let your guard down just yet,” said Dr. Tom Wake, administrator of the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control. “Coyotes will be a minimal nuisance to us and our pets if we take the proper precautions and allow them to remain wild.”
Forest Preserves of Cook County compiled a coyote FAQ for residents.
For more information about the County’s Department of Animal and Rabies Control, please visit their website.