What may look like a large dog trotting down the sidewalk could be a coyote, something Wheaton and Naperville residents have recently experienced, as coyotes are lounging on porches and seeking meals in neighborhoods. While Wheaton took drastic measures and euthanized four coyotes, Naperville residents have been sighting coyotes for months, and are only now asking, “What should we do?”
Back in January, Mary Gorecki of Buttonwood neighborhood in Naperville, found her dog Nala cornered by three coyotes late at night. Her daughter, Kristi, tried to save Nala from the showdown.
“I ran outside and just started screaming and screaming trying to get Nala in the house,” said Kristi.
Fortunately, Nala was not injured, and after trying to scare the coyotes away, they trotted off like nothing had happened.
Because the incident involved a wild animal, Animal Control was unable to help. But Mary and her neighbor Chris Martin felt it was serious enough to take before the Naperville City Council and request city action.
“As much as you say it’s your job to watch the dogs or our children, if a young child is approached by three coyotes, I would not want to have to deal with that situation,” said Gorecki.
Since then, the city of Naperville had looked into the issue of coyotes in neighborhoods, but has not made any concrete decisions on how to respond to the concerns.
While the city was unable to comment, they may have two options to remedy the situation.
One: trapping and euthanizing the bolder coyotes.
Two: learning how to co-exist with them.
For over 24 years, Brad Lundsteen has owned Suburban Wildlife Control, and over the years, he’s captured countless numbers of coyotes around the western suburbs.
He suggests removing the bold and more dangerous coyotes since they are not only harming pets, but other wild species.
“The coyotes have killed off all our native species of pheasant, there’s hardly any left. They’ve killed off almost all of our fox and to those people who think coyotes are a great animal, when they get into a residential situation and are attacking your pet, I guarantee they would be singing a different tune,” said Lundsteen.
But not all experts agree. They feel coyotes are often misunderstood; there have no reports of a violent coyote attack on a human in DuPage County. And some experts believe coyotes play a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance, so the best solution is to put the traps away and educate residents.
Dan Thompson is an Ecologist with the Willowbrook Wildlife Preserve and is considered a coyote expert. He believes that the numbers of coyotes haven’t grown in the suburbs, rather, the urban sprawl has spread onto their original habitats.
“We need to learn to deal with this. Coyotes are here to stay and trapping is not a long term solution, said Thompson. “They’re always going to be around, so we have to learn to coexist.”
But both Thompson and Lundsteen can agree on one thing: residents should not try to feed or domesticate the coyote.
“We need to learn to keep wildlife wild,” said Thompson.
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