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updated: 7/10/2012 12:01 PM

Whom should you call if you spot a coyote?

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  • Coyotes have a natural fear of people but they have adapted well and it is not unusual to see them in our midst, be it near busy urban gathering spots or near woodsy open areas.

      Coyotes have a natural fear of people but they have adapted well and it is not unusual to see them in our midst, be it near busy urban gathering spots or near woodsy open areas.
    Fire photo

 
 

Coyotes have a natural fear of people but they have adapted well and it is not unusual to see them in our midst, be it near busy urban gathering spots or near woodsy open areas.

But depending on the circumstance, when and who should you call to make a report? To avoid confusion the Lake County Health Department has created a succinct listing of answers on its website.

"The main reason for this is to better assist our citizens," said Mark Pfister, director of population health services for the department. "Coyotes have adapted very well to suburban and urban living."

Pfister said there hasn't been a rash of coyote sightings but the issue has been on the department's to-do list not only for the public but to clarify roles among various agencies that might be involved.

For example, someone who sees a coyote may call the Lake County Forest Preserve District. But unless the animal is in a forest preserve, that isn't the district's jurisdiction, Pfister explained.

"We don't want one agency to say, `Call another agency,'" he said. "They (callers) get frustrated if they keep getting referred from one agency to another."

Pfister said the information also will be made available on the forest preserve website.

The health department or its animal control unit only gets involves if a coyote has bitten a human or pet, is seriously ill or injured or is trapped in confined area, like a fenced yard, and can't escape.

"If a coyote bites a human or a pet, they need to report it to us," Pfister said. "We just want to make sure there is no rabies transmission."

Should a coyote be spotted walking through a neighborhood or open area, or if there is a coyote den on private property, no agency will respond. Instead, callers need to hire a private nuisance wildlife professional, who must adhere to state and local permits and regulations.

Pfister said most calls concerning coyote are logged in the spring, when they are raising their young and looking for food.

"Coyotes are rarely dangerous to people," he said. "Human and coyote interaction are extremely rare in the United States."

But it can happen. In April, an Aurora man was bitten on the arm and scratched by a coyote in his yard. Reports of coyotes attacking small dogs are fairly common.

Health officials caution never to approach or, let your dog approach or feed a coyote. If a coyote approaches you or comes into your yard, scare it away by shouting and waving your arms over your head. An air horn or whistle also can scare them.

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