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Wheaton dog owners be on the lookout

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According to Wheaton City Officials and this video, which includes two national coyote experts sharing their advice, and Amie Schaenzer, Editor of Wheaton Patch, coyotes are likely to be more visible in our area in the month of February. February just happens to be the month when coyotes typically mate thus making them more visible in daylight hours. This could pose a certain threat for our pets now during the day as well as during the evening hours.

The city is putting out this warning in order to protect as many unwanted pet attacks as possible. The harrowing experiences that many pet owners have had sadden everyone so the Officials in our area are trying to prevent pets from becoming a source of food for hungry, mating coyotes.

As the Wheaton Patch stated this morning (and received from the Wheaton City Newsletter): The city shares the following tips on deterring coyotes:

· NEVER feed a coyote. Take steps to ensure that you are not providing them with a source of food, either intentionally or unintentionally

· DO feed pets indoors or promptly remove dishes when pets complete their meal outside. Store bags of pet food indoors.

· DO clear brush and dense weeds from around property to deprive rodents of shelter and reduce protective cover for coyotes.

· DO use trash barrels equipped with tight clamping devices on the lids.

· DO try to educate your friends and neighbors about the problems associated with feeding coyotes.

· DO NOT feed or provide water for coyotes or other wildlife. This practice abnormally attracts coyotes and promotes increased numbers of rodents, birds and other creatures that can provide major portions of the coyote’s natural diet.

Coyote attacks have been increasing all over the United States in the past few years because more and more of their natural habitat is being claimed by human population. Now they are tending to settle in areas, such as DuPage County Forest Preserves where they can blend in with the environment but still have access to a full food supply by attacking and eating our beloved pets when they are unprotected.

Although noise is common – even in the suburbs – there are methods that families can employ in order to teach coyotes that they are not welcome; change their behaviors back to being naturally afraid of human beings. The process is appropriately termed hazing and the City recommends the following:

· Make eye contact and yell at the coyote(s)

· Wave your arms and make yourself appear as large as possible

· Use a noisemaker or a whistle

· Throw objects toward the coyote

· Stomp your feet

· Clap your hands

· Run toward the coyote to scare it off

· Act threatening

· Spray a hose toward the coyote(s)

Hazing in no way suggests the use of guns or other such weapons. The City Officials are NOT suggesting that anyone do bodily harm to the canines; just be annoying enough to cause them to want to leave and not come back. The process will certainly be time consuming in many cases and require a great deal of patience.

The only time that hazing is not recommended is if you notice that the coyote appears to be injured, sick or feels cornered. In these circumstances, the coyote may go against his or her natural instincts and lash back out of fear and sheer desperation.

The City of Wheaton also has listed ways you can use to protect your pets. These include:

· Keep small pets (cats, rabbits, small dogs) indoors. Don’t allow them to run free at any time. They are easy prey.

· Use a short leash when walking your pet. Never let a coyote get between you and your pet.

· Dogs should be brought inside after dark and never allowed to run loose. This is especially important during mating season, which is February through April.

· DO NOT leave domestic pet food outside. Wildlife will soon depend on it.

· Fences do not guarantee your pet's safety. Always attend to small pets outdoors.

As the coyote population increases and especially during high traffic seasons (like mating season), it is good to be especially cautious. If we all act preemptively, our pets will be safer in the long run!

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