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As coyote sightings increase in Batavia and surrounding areas, experts stress education and common sense

BATAVIA – Batavia 2nd Ward Alderman Leah Leman received an email from a resident of the Georgetown townhouse complex who reportedly was tailed by a coyote while walking his dog.

“At the end of November in the evening, he was out walking his dog and when he returned back to his house, there was a coyote right near his front porch,” Leman said. “The dog growled, but the coyote didn’t turn and run. It just kind of stood there.”

No injuries were reported, but Leman decided to present the story at the Dec. 6 Batavia City Council meeting.

“That wasn’t the only neighborhood I’ve heard in the last two weeks,” Leman said at the meeting. “We do have some very concerned residents.”

After Leman’s comments, Batavia Mayor Jeffery Schielke described a call he received about a coyote den seen on Pitz Lane.

“There was a den where they had dug a hole in some trees and stuff that they were living in,” Schielke said. “I called the county, and I don’t think they killed them, but just moved them along.”

Like many cities in the area, Batavia does not have an animal control service. Batavia has a contract with Kane County to provide animal control services. Coyote removal is managed through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Coyotes are protected by the Illinois Wildlife Code.

“They ordinarily will not address something like that unless the animal appears in some way to be injured or ill,” Batavia City Administrator Laura Newman said at the Dec. 6 meeting. “However, maybe one of the things it would be wise for us to bring is education for people.”

Education normally comes through conversations with experts such as professional trapper and wildlife management specialist Mark Romano, who works with cities, including Batavia, to assist residents who have encountered coyotes.

“It’s about education and trying to live in harmony with these animals,” Romano said. “A lot of people think that they’re strictly nocturnal. That’s not true.”

Romano works with wildlife across Kane and DuPage counties. He is the president of the Illinois Wildlife Control Operators Association.

With the Illinois Department of Natural Resources thin on staff and funding, daily animal management often falls to professional trappers.

“It’s not just specific to Batavia,” Romano said. “There are a lot of coyotes in the collar counties, more than you think. Every village and every township, all have coyotes.”

In May, a woman in Bolingbrook reported being snarled at by a coyote while walking her dog.

Romano said a coyote will choose to tail someone for specific reasons.

“Maybe it’s being fed by humans and it’s associated human beings with food,” Romano said. “It could be sick. More often than not in a case like this, that’s more likely what’s wrong.”

One of the most common illnesses within local coyote populations is heartworm, which often can compromise the animal’s sense. This sometimes will cause the animal to not respond to stimuli that normally would frighten it off, making common coyote “hazing” tactics such as creating loud noises ineffective, Romano said.

“When a coyote is sick, he’s banned from his family unit,” he said. “It’s hard for it to eat maybe or look for food because its senses are messed up.”

Romano stressed that most problems arise from humans creating food sources for birds and small mammals, which in turn attract coyotes and other predators.

“I tend to look at more with the human action with feeding prior to that,” he said. “Once you associate [humans] with food, whether it’s a bird or squirrels or coyotes, then they’re your ‘friend.’ They expect to be fed.”

Coyote attacks are rare, and there often is a difference between a sighting and a problem, Romano said.

“Sometimes you can do things that will stop the problem before trapping is necessary,” Romano said.

For more information on Coyote safety, click here.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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