Coyote activity along the Millennium Trail near Wauconda has prompted safety warnings.
Lake County Forest Preserve District staff are posting signs along the trail near the Orchard Hills subdivision to alert people about the predators.
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The action was prompted by two civilian complaints about coyotes along the trail, which runs through the Wauconda area and into other parts of Lake County. Both sightings were north of Gossell Road, said Jim Anderson, a natural resource manager with the forest district.
"During the district's investigation by one of our wildlife biologists, we encountered a substantial number of coyote tracks along the trail," Anderson said in an email to the Daily Herald. "Our biologist estimated there are approximately four coyotes in the area."
The coyotes are using the trail and areas along the wetland on the east side of the trail, Anderson said. They appeared to be following cottontail rabbits, he said.
Some of the coyotes strayed into residential neighborhoods, Anderson confirmed.
"In each of these locations, coyotes were targeting bird feeders in residents' yards or following cottontails," he said. "It appeared that cottontails and rodents were attracted to the bird seed on the ground, and the coyotes were attracted to the presence of those small mammals."
District staff didn't find a coyote den. This time of year, coyotes do not use dens, Anderson said.
The signs are designed to inform people using the trail about the coyote activity, Anderson said. They remind people that coyotes are naturally afraid of people and consider dogs territorial threats rather than prey.
They also include advice about what to do when encountering a coyote. Suggestions include:
• Don't turn your back or run from a coyote.
• Appear as big and loud as possible.
• Wave your arms and throw objects near, but not at, the coyote.
• Face the coyote and back away slowly.
You can protect pets from coyotes by:
• Keeping dogs on short leashes.
• Staying on designated trails.
• Using extra caution at dusk and dawn.