Coyotes becoming urban critters in Illinois

spectr17

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Wily coyotes preying on urban areas posing greater threat to pets.

By PAUL WOOD, THE NEWS-GAZETTE

Online September 23, 2001

  CHAMPAIGN – If you leave cat food out at night, you might be attracting unwanted nocturnal guests. If you leave your cat out ... well, Fluffy might become din-din for a coyote.

  Complaints about coyotes in urban areas are up 27 percent in a single year, notes Craig Miller, who studies human/beast interactions at the Illinois Natural History Survey in Champaign.

  It's not just coyotes in your neighborhood, but foxes, raccoons, Canada geese and opossums, he added, as housing developments take away habitat in corn fields and ponds near subdivisions create wetlands.

  Larger mammals like deer cause far more danger – to humans and deer alike. We're entering the "rut" season, autumn, in which romantically-inclined white-tailed deer cross roads to meet each other and end up meeting with speeding cars.

  More than 19,700 deer-vehicle collisions were reported on Illinois roads in 2000, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

  Miller is overseeing a study in which 2,100 randomly-selected homeowners will receive surveys in the mail this month, asking about interactions with animals and what kind of problems they present.

  From 1985 to 2000, complaints about nuisance wildlife rose 450 percent, Miller said.

  Coyotes had the highest increase in complaints, though squirrel complaints also saw a formidable rise.

  Miller has heard the coyote calling, and that's not meant in a metaphorical or spiritual sense. He lives near the Assembly Hall and has often seen the critters in his headlights, their yellow eyes beaming back at him.

  "I've seen them walking right down the middle of Windsor Road," he said.

  It's not that there are more coyotes; there are more living among us.

  "When we build housing developments, among the first things we do is plant trees and shrubs. Over 50 years, they grow into mature trees and hedges, proving an excellent habitat for coyotes," he said.

  It's not uncommon, he said, for a coyote or a coyote-dog hybrid to weigh 40 pounds and be able to kill a cat.

  University of Illinois professor emeritus Tom Burke said cats and dogs are not what coyotes are used to chowing down on.

  "They prefer mice, voles and birds," he said.

  But a cat can look pretty attractive on an empty stomach.

  Burke said the vast majority of coyote reports are about coyote-dog hybrids. Both species interbreed freely.

  Miller said several other factors favor coyotes, including low fur prices that discourage trapping and great adaptability to habitat.

  Cities are safer for coyotes, too.

  "Urban areas are better environment than farms because they're not preyed on in the city," he said.

  Coyotes breed in February and March, with litters of four to nine in late spring. They can grow to be up to 54 inches long and 2 feet high at the shoulder.

  Coyotes and coyote-dog mixes will also drink water out of swimming pools or other water sources, so back yards look increasingly attractive.

  Miller warns against confronting them.

  "Opossum, raccoons, any of these can be scary when you challenge them. Squirrels bit me as a kid. Coyotes have to be treated with respect; when you see a coyote, it may look like a dog, but it isn't," he said.

  In unhealthy coyotes, mange and rabies can flourish, making them a danger to household pets in yet another way.

  You might want to get a llama for protection. The UI uses one to guard sheep, Miller said. "They disrupt the coyote's attack plan," he explained.

  The UI Wildlife Clinic sees some cases of animals attacked by coyotes, but even a veterinarian can't be entirely sure who is at fault.

  Beth Ellen McNamara, the Wildlife Clinic's co-manager, said, "It's difficult to say from a small bite if a fox or coyote or crow attacked the animal."

  The clinic has seen a couple of coyotes, mostly car victims.

  "They're always taken some place away from Champaign to be released," she said.
 

coyotehunter 1

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Good post spectr17!  Some of my best coyote hunting lately has been just outside the city limits of one nearby town, between a golf course and a small farm. The rough edges of the golf course makes a fine home for coyote food sources like mice, rabbits and groundhogs, the hilly wooded sections of the  cattle farm supplies cover and security for the predators. My self appointed "don't shoot the golfers zone" next to  the course makes a fine winter hunting spot when the course is closed due to cold weather or I can hunt the back side of the farm that is a safe distance away from the course anytime. In this area a shotgun is preferred as there are houses that are too close for a rifle or pistol. Urban coyotes are here to stay, we just need to learn how to hunt them.
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crookramba

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I work the third shift in Crystal Lake ill and have seen packs of coyotes in the dumpsters behind stores and resturants when i am going home in the morning. Some of the look like greyhounds they are so skinny. They have no fear and go right up on porches and into yards and garages to steal petfood and sometime pets if they can.
 
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