By Bob Uphues
With coyote sightings in Riverside promising to eclipse the high water mark of 20 recorded in 2010, the village last week unveiled its new policy regarding the animals, outlining how the village plans to track their whereabouts and what residents can do to help.
Village Manager Peter Scalera and Police Chief Thomas Weitzel have been working on crafting the policy after a resident in early January reported four coyotes charging his dogs in a Riverside backyard.
Riverside police will now actively track coyote sightings, recording not only where they were seen but the behavior they exhibited and whether there might have been factors contributing to their presence, such as food, trash, small pets or rodents.
In addition, the village has created a brochure, which is available on the Riverside website (www.riverside.il.us or directly by clicking here), at the police department and at the village offices in the Riverside Township Hall. Other policy documents are also available on the website by clicking on the "for residents" link on the homepage and then choosing "coyote information" from the drop-down menu.
The brochure outlines what residents can do to discourage the presence of coyotes. In particular, residents are encouraged to "haze" coyotes whenever they confront them — by clapping hands, shouting, waving arms or throwing small objects at them.
"They are more fearful of humans than people think," said Scalera, during a short presentation of the policy to village trustees Monday night.
Residents are also asked to call Riverside police anytime there is an encounter, so police can track the incident.
Weitzel on Monday night said that his department in 2013 already has received 12 calls reporting coyote sightings, including everything from a coyote killing a rabbit in someone's backyard to packs of the animals walking in the vicinity of the river near Forest Avenue.
"If you call, we send an officer," said Weitzel.