Coyotes ugly, disconcerting to some in Tinley Park
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org November 29, 2012 5:50PM
Patrick Brennan with his dog Bingo at his home in Tinley Park Wednesday, November 28, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
How to steer clear
Five ways to avoid conflicts with coyotes:
Do not feed the coyotes.
Do not let pets run loose.
Do not run from a coyote.
Repellents or fencing may help.
Report aggressive, fearless coyotes immediately.
Updated: January 1, 2013 6:18AM
The big stick that accompanies the Rev. Patrick Brennan on his walks these days is evidence of his concern that coyotes have become a potential danger in Tinley Park.
Brennan, who has lived for 20 years in the village’s Meadow Mews subdivision, has spotted the animals frequently in recent days. The subdivision is west of the village hall, not far from Bicentennial Park and the Tinley Park Retirement Community.
“There are kids who play in (the park). There are elderly residents who take walks there,” said Brennan, who takes the stick along for protection when he walks his dog Bingo, a 10-year-old schnauzer.
“I’m afraid for myself and I’m afraid for him,” said Brennan, 65.
Some neighbors also are annoyed, while others say coyotes rarely confront humans and don’t present a problem. Whatever the case, coyote sightings in the Southland have hardly been unique to Tinley Park in recent years.
While Brennan was walking Bingo on Wednesday morning, a man pulled up and told him to get himself and the dog into the car.
“He said, ‘Sir, there’s a huge coyote down the street here,’ ” Brennan said. “He gave me and Bingo a ride to my driveway. I came back to the house, and a big coyote was sitting on the front lawn staring at us. I yelled for it to get out of here. I am very concerned about this.”
Village officials acknowledged an uptick in reported coyote sightings, but said there is little they can do.
Like Brennan, Theresa Hart, manager of the Tinley Court Retirement Community just south of the park, is worried about safety.
Some of her 121 residents “enjoy walking around outside, and the coyotes are all over the place,” she said.
“I see them out there, even during the day,” Hart said. “There has to be some kind of options for dealing with this.”
Brennan’s next-door neighbor, Ray Donnelly, has heard coyotes.
“They make this yipping noise. I’ve heard it at 8 or 9 in the morning. ‘Yip, yip, yip,’ ” he said. “I don’t fear for my safety. It’s not that bad. But if I was out walking and came across a pack of them, I’d sure walk away.”
Another resident, George Seymour, was face to face with a coyote during a recent stroll on a walking path near the subdivision.
“We looked at each other right in the eye. I didn’t want to cross his path, but eventually he turned and walked away. He was big and ugly,” he said.
“They don’t bother me, but some people are deathly afraid of them,” Seymour said, noting that two coyotes were seen this week near Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Seymour has had no problems.
“But I don’t have a dog,” he said. “I think those people may be concerned about it. If coyotes get hungry enough, they’d go after something small, but they don’t go after humans, far as I know. It’s not like a crocodile or a black bear.”
Seymour has lived in Meadow Mews for 13 years and said coyotes “come and go.”
Tinley Park village manager Scott Niehaus confirmed there are coyotes “out in the meadow” from time to time.
“I’ve seen them from my office as well. They like to bask out in the sun,” Niehaus said.
But the village’s hands are tied.
“The laws are very limited. We can’t have officers damage the animals or take things into their own hands unless there is a threat, where one appears to be rabid or sick or (displays) some aggressive behavior,” Niehaus said.
Niehaus thinks the coyotes may live in the wetland near Meadow Mews or in a forest preserve east of the village hall.
Tinley Park police have received four calls about coyote sightings in the past month, Sgt. Lorelei Mason said.
“That’s more than we’ve had in the past couple months, but it’s also colder out and they’re hunting a bit more. We haven’t got any calls about coyotes going after dogs or things like that,” Mason said.
Tinley Park doesn’t have a catch-and-release policy for coyotes, said Mason, who urged residents to take precautions if they see coyotes nearby.
“You have to be smart with your animals. You have to watch them,” Mason said.
Animal control officer Kim Tessmann has found evidence of coyotes in the wetland area, said Mason, who urged residents to carry noisemakers such as an air horn if they feel threatened.
“Basically, we’re taking their territory and we have to learn to live with them,” she said.
Brennan was not impressed with that message.
“Oh, that’s great. They may as well take down the ‘Bicentennial Park’ sign. It’s no longer a park; it’s a wildlife center,” Brennan said.