Coyote Attack In Highland Park

Coyotes attacked two dogs at the beach in Highland Park recently, according to TribLocal. This followed another incident in southeast Highland Park where a woman told police a coyote followed her while she was walking her dog. (Click here to read the full story.

GazeboNews asked authorities about coyote activity in our communities, and none reported an increase in problem situations. Police in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff said they are not seeing an increase in complaints about coyotes so far this fall and winter.

But veterinarian Dr. David McKenna of the Animal Hospital of West Lake Forest said his practice is hearing about an increase in coyote activity in our area, and from recent reports the coyotes seem to be getting a bit bolder around both humans and pets.

“It is important for people with small pets to keep a watchful eye on them and to avoid leaving them outside unattended,” he said.

The Animal Hospital’s manager, Brenda Belmonte, said coyote are scavengers looking for a quick and easy meal, and that they’ll confront a medium to large healthy dog if they have the option to escape. Small dogs, dogs with medical conditions that render them unable to move quickly, and older, infirm dogs are more at risk in areas where coyotes are frequently seen.

The incidents in Highland Park are typical coyote behavior, said Lake Bluff Open Lands Association President Larry McCotter. He said LBOLA has had numerous reports of behavior similar to the recent incidents in Highland Park. It’s the dogs the coyotes are after, not the humans.

“This is the time of year when they are giving birth and raising their young,” Mr. McCotter said. “Other canines in the vicinity of coyote pups represent an understandable threat to the coyote parents. We haven’t had reports of actual attacks, but of a number of dog walkers who were aggressively confronted and escorted out of the coyote’s territory.”

He recommends carrying a big stick when you go out on walks. You should also closely monitor your pets–keep cats indoors, for example, and dogs on leash.

(Editor’s note: Some people think a fenced yard protects pets, but this is not always the case. My family watched a coyote mosey across the backyard, either not seeing or ignoring our Labrador Retriever, right up to a five-foot fence, which it hopped as if it had bionic springs in its hind legs.)

The Lake County Forest Preserve District has a lot of information about coyotes on its website, including what to do if you see one:
“The key to living with coyotes is remembering that they are naturally afraid of people. The most effective
way to prevent a bad encounter with a coyote is to reinforce this natural fear using your behavior. Coyotes
are often seen in neighborhoods near natural areas. If a coyote is seen in its natural habitat, it is fine to   
watch it from a distance. Never approach a coyote, let your dog approach it, or feed it. If you are
approached by a coyote, or it comes into your yard, scare it away by shouting at it and waving your arms
over your head. These actions will reinforce the coyote’s natural fear of people and teach it that your yard
is not available territory.   

“If a coyote becomes aggressive, will not be scared away by you, or approaches you aggressively, these are
signs that it has lost it fear of people. This is often a result of someone feeding it. If this occurs, the
individual coyote may need to be trapped and killed. Another coyote will take its place, but this new
coyote will have a fear of people and will not exhibit aggressive behavior.

“If you see this type of aggressive behavior in an individual coyote, you should contact Lake County Animal
Control at 847‐949‐9925.”

Here are several resources about coyotes:

To hear what they sound like visit for audio recordings of coyote yips, howls, barks, whines and other vocalizations.

Lake County Forest Preserve District: Increased Coyote Activity in May and June

LCFPD: Frequently Asked Questions about coyotes

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