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Coyotes more visible in fall and winter

<p>Image by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/46355638@N00/5151199921/" target="_blank">John Carrel</a>, Flickr</p>

Image by John Carrel, Flickr

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County reminds DuPage residents that it is not unusual for coyote sightings to increase now through February as young coyotes disperse from their family groups.

“We receive a lot of calls this time of year from people who are concerned by what they perceive as an increase in the number of coyotes in our area,” says Dan Thompson, an ecologist in the District’s Office of Natural Resources, “but what they’re seeing is just more visible activity, not more animals.”

First-year females may stay with their parents to help raise next spring’s pups, but young males must leave to find territories of their own, a quest that can take them over several miles. The seasonal scarcity of food in the Chicagoland area further increases activity, which people may notice even more because of leafless trees and shrubs.

Because young coyotes are inexperienced, they may not be as wary of humans as older animals are, but as Thompson advises, “Forest preserve visitors and homeowners should not be alarmed. Simple precautions can help avoid potential conflicts.”

People should keep pets leashed on forest preserve trails and accompany them at all times, even in private fenced-in yards. No one should ever attempt to feed a coyote, and anyone who encounters a coyote should remain confident and bold, waving arms and making loud noises to intimidate the animal.

Additional information on coyotes, including videos, is posted on dupageforest.org under “Plants, Animals and Habitats” and “Living With Wildlife in DuPage County.”

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County owns and manages 25,000 acres of prairies, woodlands and wetlands. Each year its 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers and scores of programs welcome over 4 million visitors. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube pages.

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