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Article updated: 11/3/2011 1:56 PM

Coyote attack spurs warnings in Aurora

By Bob Smith

A coyote that killed a small dog Tuesday prompted Aurora Animal Control officials to urge residents to take extra precautions.

Authorities on Wednesday said they've received six reports of coyote sightings this week, most in far southeast-side neighborhoods near rural or wooded areas. There were 23 such calls all last year.

Randy Johnson, the Phillips Park Zoo manager who is helping oversee animal control, said sightings are not unusual in autumn when many young coyotes are on the move from familiar territories.

"This is the time of year when mom kicks her young out and gets ready to breed for next year," he said.

Farmers harvesting crops also may displace some animals and disrupt the behavior of others.

"They (the coyotes) may have been hunting for rodents in a soybean field and all of a sudden the soybean field is gone," Johnson said.

Coyotes can be a danger to young children, as well as dogs and other pets, authorities said.

In the attack Tuesday night, witnessed by neighbors, a coyote killed a 3-year-old poodle in the Kendall County portion of the city, spokesman Dan Ferrelli said.

Johnson said he heard of a similar attack earlier this fall near Sugar Grove, but this was the first of the season in Aurora.

To reduce the likelihood of future attacks, authorities are urging residents not to feed coyotes, either intentionally or unintentionally.

That means removing potential food sources, including pet food that may be left outside and even bird and squirrel feeders.

"Big, huge bird feeders attract birds," Johnson said, "and coyotes eat birds."

Attacks against people are rare, but if you're approached by a coyote, officials say you should yell, wave your arms and throw something at the animal. Never try to run away.

Officials said any coyote attack against people or pets in the city should be reported to the animal control division at (630) 256-3630.

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