Year-End Coyote Update
Earlier this year, the Village began fielding several phone calls, emails and visits from residents who reported increased coyote activity in and around their neighborhood; specifically, the area near Sunrise Park and Lions Park. The residents noted that the coyote activity was unusual in that the coyotes did not seem to be afraid or fearful of humans. In one instance this year, a small dog in the Village was attacked and killed while in its own backyard. That unprovoked attack was believed to have been committed by two coyotes.
Following this incident, the Police Department reached out to the Cook County Animal Control Unit and Illinois Department of Conservation to seek assistance. Unfortunately, neither group was able to provide help. The Cook County Animal Control Unit advised the Village they were not licensed to trap, relocate, or euthanize coyotes and the Illinois Department of Conservation responded that they did not have the available resources to assist the Village. Both agencies suggested that the Village contact a private contractor licensed through the State of Illinois to address the situation.
Upon researching private contractors who are licensed in Illinois, the Police Department identified the owner of Scientific Wildlife Management, Rob Erickson, as a leading expert on the topic of urban coyote management. Mr. Erickson has 38 years of experience in this field, has given lectures at universities across the country and is considered one of the nation’s leading experts in the field of urban coyotes. No one has conducted more research and actual field work on urban coyotes outside of Mr. Erickson. Scientific Wildlife Management has also worked with numerous municipalities throughout the Chicagoland area, several of which are in the northwest suburbs.
Concerned about the safety of our residents and their pets, the Village reached out to Mr. Erickson to discuss the increased coyote activity occurring within the Village. Mr. Erickson enlisted the help of the community to get a better understanding of the Village’s coyote population and patterns. Residents were provided, via the Village’s webpage and social media sites, the link to a webpage which allowed them the opportunity to report coyote sightings directly to Mr. Erickson. The webpage was user friendly and provided valuable data, such as location of the coyote sighting, the physical condition of the coyote, and the behavior of the coyote.
The information provided by residents consisted of over 100 reports electronically submitted, including photographs of actual coyotes in the Village. After several weeks of receiving and analyzing data from residents, Mr. Erickson was able to identify several sick and diseased coyotes that were living along Weller Creek and near Sunrise Park. Based on their appearance, several coyotes seemed to exhibit various stages of Sarcoptic Mange. In order to corroborate residents’ reports, Mr. Erickson sought and received approval from the Mount Prospect Park District to monitor the coyote situation at Sunrise Park during the overnight hours.
Through this observation of the coyotes at Sunrise Park, Mr. Erickson felt there were several diseased and sick coyotes which were responsible for the unusual behavior that many of the residents had reported. It was clear to Mr. Erickson the coyotes appeared to be suffering from advanced stages of Sarcoptic Mange. In addition, it appeared that the coyotes had become habituated animals, which means they had lost some of their natural fear of humans. Mange can be treated in domestic dogs if caught in time; however, it is not a viable option for coyotes, primarily due to the cost and the limited number of resources that would be needed to treat them. Mr. Erickson indicated studies had been conducted in Cook County, which showed that 90% of coyotes that have Sarcoptic Mange will die. Most of those animals do not pass away peacefully, but suffer greatly. Unfortunately, Wildlife Scientific Management had very few options.
As a result of the reported sightings and conditions of the coyotes in Mount Prospect, Mr. Erickson was able to identify, trap, and remove six infected animals that showed late stages of Sarcoptic Mange. The coyotes were trapped with Illinois Department of Natural Resources approved equipment. Due to the fact that all six of the coyotes had various stages of mange, some up to stage 4, relocation was not an option. To risk infecting a healthy population of coyotes would be an irresponsible decision. The coyotes were euthanized and donated to Cook County Wildlife for educational research. Subsequent necropsies were completed and confirmed all coyotes were infected with Mange. Also noted was the presence of dog and cat food in the coyote stomachs, suggesting someone is feeding the coyotes. Although healthy coyotes were reported and observed, none were trapped or removed.
The removal of the diseased animals was done under the guidelines, rules and regulations of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The trapping and removal of these diseased animals was done in a manner that did not pose any safety concern to the community at any time. In the past few months, coyotes with late stages of mange have been reported as “Zombie Dogs” in other municipalities around Cook County. According to Mr. Erickson, the coyotes removed from Mount Prospect resembled those animals.
It has been theorized the reason the area has experienced so many problems with coyotes this year is due to last year’s mild winter. Had temperatures been as cold as they normally are, it is believed the sick and diseased coyotes would not have survived the winter.
While Mr. Erickson was monitoring the area for coyotes, he was able to identify at least one resident who was leaving food scraps out in their backyard, which he believed was being eaten by coyotes. While it was not the intention of the resident to feed coyotes, it was an unintended consequence of leaving food outdoors. The resident was spoken with, immediately brought all food indoors and agreed to stop leaving food outside.
The Village strongly discourages residents from leaving unattended food outdoors. This practice can often create a nuisance in the area, attracting a variety of wildlife ranging from skunks to coyotes. The more a coyote is lured into a residential area, the better the chance they have of possibly infecting other animals, such as household pets, with mange and/or heartworm.
Since the diseased animals have been removed, Mr. Erickson has noticed the number of coyote sightings in the Village reported to his website drop significantly. Residents who observe a coyote in their neighborhood are still asked to go here to report the sighting and condition of the animal.
Approximately two weeks ago, CBS News reported on a coyote attack on a dog that took place in Northfield, IL. The dog was let outside and within a matter of seconds was attacked by a coyote. The dog fortunately was able to escape and survived the ordeal, however many are not as lucky. This incident was captured on a surveillance camera. The news story is a good reminder for dog owners to keep a close eye on your pets when you let them outside. Here is a link to the CBS news story: Link
Mr. Erickson will continue to monitor coyote activity in the Village and forwards all reported sightings to Village staff. Any residents who have questions pertaining to coyotes are encouraged to contact Mr. Erickson directly.