Of course as a responsible pet owner, I am from time to time worried about the possibility of a coyote invading our backyard especially after some of the stories on the news lately about coyotes being more bold. When I read an article talking about it the other day, I thought that I would share some of the highlights in case you are worried about your pets as well.

Below are a few key facts:

-Understanding coyotes and their behavior is key to avoiding unnecessary encounters with them.

-Coyotes play a useful role in the ecosystem because they keep the rodent population in check.

-Coyotes sometimes eat carrion which helps keep the woods and fields clear of decaying animals.

-Coyotes are nocturnal but are sometimes active during the day.

-Coyotes resemble a German Shepherd but their snouts are longer and more pointed than a dog's. In addition their tails are bushier, and they hold their tails down between their legs when running rather than turned upward like a dog.

-While coyotes do not typically hunt our pets for food, it does happen from time to time, however, you can minimize your risk by, of course, not feeding them, but this also means not leaving any food source available to them like unsecured garbage cans; unsecured compost bins (since coyotes do occasionally eat fruit); large bird feeders (since they attract squirrels which coyotes eat); and never leave pet food outside either.

-It's best never to leave pets outdoors alone especially at night.

-In the event that you do have a coyote approach you, try to make yourself appear big and threatening. Stand tall and yell and wave your arms. If a coyote shows any signs of aggression like barking, growling or snarling immediately contact Police or animal control.

I love all animals but I, like you, don't want any of my beauties harmed because some coyote just happened to be hungry. Better safe than sorry as they say!

Source: Excerpt from Forest Preserve District of Will County

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