The mild winter weather might be causing more coyotes to hang around Highland Park, according to a Heller Nature Center naturalist.
Want Highland Park news in your inbox? Sign up for the newsletter.
A picture sent to Patch by a Highland Park resident on Thursday of a coyote in a Clavey Road and Red Oak Lake backyard prompted me to reach out to Leah Holloway, who has worked for the Park District of Highland Park for more than four years, to see what it is about this city that appeals to coyotes.
"We have a healthy coyote population in Highland Park," Holloway said. She pointed to the city's many parks and open areas as factors that could appeal to them. "It's just a really great neighborhood for them."
Coyotes are about the size of a medium-sized dog and aren't a threat to people, Holloway explained. They might, however, be a threat to your pets.
"Somebody once insisted that a coyote was following her as she walked her dog," Holloway said, "You think the coyote is after them but really it's that dog that looks really, really tasty."
Typically solitary in nature, Holloway said that she has spotted coyotes traveling in pairs or groups this winter. She said that might be the sign of a good habitat for them, as it means there's enough food going around.
"Coyotes will eat anything they can get if they're hungry," Holloway said. "With such an easy year there could be more of them around."
In the past, the Highland Park Police Department has issued these suggestions to keep residents and their animals out of harm's way.
- Leash your dogs when on public property.
- Supervise your children.
- Secure your garbage.
- Don't leave pet food outside.
Also, never leave your pet unattended. If you see an especially menacing looking coyote, Holloway says you should make yourself big and make loud noises to scare it off.
But if you happen to see one in your backyard, you should also feel free to take that as sign that you have an especially good looking backyard, according to Holloway.
"A coyote in your backyard is kind of a compliment," she said. "It means there's a good habitat for them."
Have you had any interesting run-ins with Highland Park wildlife?