PHOTOS: Coyote sightings increase with mating season - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

PHOTOS: Coyote sightings increase with mating season

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Credit: Rob Young Credit: Rob Young
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

As coyote mating season winds down over the next couple of months, area authorities are alerting residents -- especially pet owners -- that they may encounter more coyotes than usual now through April.

Two coyotes were spotted near the University of Chicago on Wednesday, in the Midway Plaisance neighborhood, as they walked through Washington and Jackson Parks.

The village of Wheaton issued an alert this week telling residents that from February through April, approximately, they may see more coyotes in the community, as this is the typical mating period for the animals. The alert said that while pets do not comprise a large portion of a coyote's diet, it is especially important for dog owners to keep their pets on a leash during this time of year, when they may be more likely to encounter a coyote. Coyotes are opportunistic and will go for easy prey, such as an unattended pet, the alert said.

Coyotes are wild animals who hunt other animals for survival, a release from Naperville Police said. They have been known to kill foxes, which compete with coyotes for small prey. Domestic dogs and cats may sometimes be appealing to coyotes, so in addition to keeping pets on a leash, residents are also urged to never leave dogs or cats unattended in the yard and always keep them inside at night, as well as keeping their yards well-lit when outdoors at night with their pets.

Coyotes can become a nuisance when they have easy access to food in residential areas, such as pet food or garbage, the Wheaton alert said. To discourage their presence, residents are urged to eliminate these outdoor sources of food.

The warning from Wheaton comes on the heels of a handful of coyote attacks over the past few months on small dogs in suburbs ranging from Antioch to Wheaton to Tinley Park. In early January, a coyote jumped the fence of a home in Riverside and killed a small dog that was in the yard. Later that month, a group of four coyotes broke down some panes of glass on the door of a home in Riverside as they chased after and tried to attack another dog in that suburb.

Mary Jo Maffei in Oak Brook had a recent encounter in her back yard.

"I was by the kitchen just vacuuming and doing my thing and I look out the window and there's this coyote around the area where my dog goes out every day to go to the bathroom," Maffei explains.

She was concerned because her 10-pound dog, Dolce, runs outside in the same area. She snapped pictures to show how close the coyote was to her home.

"It was really scary considering we have a 10-pound dog here and taking her out at night can be kind of risky now," Maffei says.

Images like those may scare some, but not those like Don Parker.

"It's really great to see the coyotes out and about and have a chance to witness it and see that video get popular and let other people see just really how cool they are," Parker says.

Just a couple of months ago, photos of coyotes were snapped outside of Wrigley Field near many bars and restaurants.

The Forest preserve District of Cook County says people shouldn't be so fearful of these coyotes.

"Around this time of year is their breeding time," Parker says. "So they're going to get together with their mate and we may see them become more active."

But for dog owners like Maffei, seeing coyotes up close and personal is not something she enjoys.

"That was the shock of it," says Maffei. "The whole time was how close he was and exactly what he was doing was weird."

Many wildlife experts, according to Wheaton, believe that coyote "hazing" can help deter the animals. This is the term used for actions such as making loud noises or threatening gestures toward coyotes in an attempt to reestablish a healthy fear of humans. Hazing is not intended to physically harm coyotes. Anyone who encounters a coyote is advised to make themselves look as large as possible, and use those hazing techniques.

The release from Naperville police advised residents that if they are followed by a coyote, it's because they are likely walking through it's territory and the coyote is merely escorting or "shadowing" the person to make sure they are not a threat.

Area residents are encouraged to report all coyote sightings to their towns so that other residents can be made aware of the animals' presence.

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