Coyote on some stairs.

If you’ve seen a coyote recently, you are not alone. These highly adaptable animals are becoming more common in and around developed areas, including Wheaton, due in large part to the sheer variety of possible shelters and abundant refuse to eat.

Coyotes have certainly earned their place on the food chain (and continue to be important contributors to the ecological community), but the threat of coyotes to your pet is sizable. In an effort to protect your pet from a dangerous attack or altercation, the pet experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital offer the following tips:

In Check

Coyotes are enormously helpful in keeping the rodent population down, but they’re easily lured away from their territories by the smell of food. Their proximity to our front doors and backyards can alternate between surprising and unsettling, but the bottom line is that it’s always important to have some safety protocols in place.

Understanding the Threat of Coyotes

Coyotes appear to view neighborhoods as prime hunting grounds. While this includes rats, mice, squirrels, and rabbits, coyotes have been known to prey on cats and dogs. If your pet is larger than an approaching coyote, the two might get into a potentially dangerous physical altercation. Also, coyotes can transmit parasites and diseases such as rabies, parvovirus, giardia, and distemper can be transmitted to your pet.

If your pet has suffered an attack, please seek emergency care immediately.

What to Look For

Coyote tracks look like dog tracks, but their gait causes the front and rear paws to land in the same spot. Notify the team at Urban Coyote Research if you see a coyote in the Wheaton area or if you’d like updated information about the threats of coyotes nearby. They actively catch, collar, and monitor coyotes in Illinois.

Prevention is Best

To keep your pet safe from the threat of coyotes, we encourage you to follow these tips:

  • Secure your yard with fences that are at least 6 feet tall and extend below ground by a foot
  • Clean up any fallen fruit or scattered birdseed
  • Keep trash bins closed and compost heaps covered
  • Go outside with your dog or cat after dark, keep your pet on a short leash, and carry a flashlight
  • Make sure your neighbors aren’t leaving food out
  • Update your pet’s vaccinations
  • Have your pet spayed or neutered
  • Prevent rodents from nesting in garden sheds or beneath your home, as they’re prime targets for coyotes
  • Limit ideal resting areas for coyotes on your property; trim shrubbery, and remove any fallen tree limbs or logs
  • Consider making your indoor-outdoor cat strictly indoor

Not Helpless

The threat of coyotes is very real, and it can take you by surprise. Whether in a suburban development or on a trail, if you ever cross paths with a coyote, make yourself seem bigger than you are. Clap your hands, wave your arms overhead, and find something to throw in order to scare the coyote away. Instead of running, back up slowly while keeping your eyes on the coyote. You may decide to invest in an air horn or bear spray.

If you can, do not allow your pet to run toward a coyote. Chasing or threatening a coyote can be highly dangerous.

Because your pet’s safety is our primary concern, we hope you’ll let us know if you have any questions or concerns about the threat of coyotes.