Coyotes may seem out of place in a near west suburb of Chicago, but as the last six months have shown in Riverside, they are more part of the scenery than an anomaly. And it looks like we better get used to that fact and learn not exactly to live with them but understand why they’re here and what to do to make it uncomfortable for them to set up housekeeping in the backyard.
To give a sense of the scope of the issue, Riverside police since February have taken nearly 120 calls regarding coyotes. Back in February the village instituted a coyote policy after two reports of coyotes attacking dogs in late 2012 and early 2013.
That policy, which is available on the Riverside website at www.riverside.il.us (click on “Coyote Information” from the drop-down menu under “For Residents” on the home page), outlines how to respond when coyotes appear and strategies on how to avoid attracting them.
Chief among those are making sure not to feed them or leave pet food and water bowls outside. Coyotes are also attracted to garbage cans that are left open and overgrown areas where they can seek shelter.
That last item is one thing residents can do to prevent coyotes from bedding down and establishing a den. In the Uvedale/Gatesby area where the coyotes seem so prevalent, there are several properties that have thick vegetation that is perfect for such an event.
With the regular appearance of, it appears, the same couple of coyotes over and over in that area, it seems likely that there is an established den in the neighborhood.
And while the coyotes have not sought contact with human beings in that area and have not attacked any pets (well, the pet owners in that neighborhood have become mighty protective in the past year), it’s clear from the occasional rabbit head or fox leg left behind in a yard that the coyotes are there because there’s an opportunity for food.
Again, we don’t think coyotes are ever going to disappear in Riverside — the village is bordered by forest preserves and is directly linked to one such area by the swinging bridge (police have seen coyotes dashing across that bridge in either direction at night) — residents can do what they can to make them feel unwanted in their neighborhoods.
Shout at them, throw small objects at them, clap your hands. They don’t want any more a part of humans than humans want of them. And trim the bushes, please.