Why You Might See More Coyotes This Time of Year
Young start to leave their parents’ homes in fall to find their own territories
DuPage County residents might see more coyotes between now and February as young leave their parents in search of mates and territories to call their own, according to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
“Young coyotes are looking for a place to call home, yet most areas are already occupied. This forces them to move around in search of unclaimed territories,” explained Forest Preserve District ecologist Dan Thompson. “As a result, sightings tend to increase this time of year.”
People may also see coyotes more frequently in winter because there’s less vegetation, which means the animals have fewer places to hide. Snow on the ground makes them easier to spot, too. Coyotes are also more active because they have to spend more time foraging for food. A rise in sightings doesn’t necessarily mean a rise in the county’s coyote population, though. Still, because of this seasonal increase in activity, people with pets should be especially vigilant.
“Follow forest preserve regulations, and keep your pet on a leash when you’re in a preserve,” Thompson said. “It’s smart to stay with your dog and keep it leashed in your yard, too. Even if you’ve never seen a coyote in your neighborhood, they’re there.”
Although uncommon, coyotes can target dogs to eliminate perceived competition for territory.
“Most of the time, coyotes coexist with dogs without incident, but dogs that tend to be territorial and bark vigorously at other animals can inadvertently instigate an encounter,” Thompson said.
Hungry coyotes may be drawn to unsecured garbage cans, pet food, open compost piles, bird feeders, or fallen fruit under trees and shrubs. Keeping yards clean can limit these attractions. Homeowners should never intentionally feed coyotes as it leads the animals to expect food from rather than fear humans.
Coyotes play a vital role in the ecological community, keeping populations of small animals and rodents in check in DuPage County ecosystems. Visit dupageforest.org for more information on living with coyotes and ways to keep pets safe.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for more than 100 years. More than 6.2 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 166 miles of trails, six education centers, and scores of programs each year. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok pages.