Dekker: Coyotes don’t deserve their bad reputation
By Julie Dekker Citizen Journalistemail@example.com April 11, 2013 1:30PM
A coyote seen in the forest preserves near Tinley Park. | Supplied photo
Updated: May 15, 2013 6:14AM
Seeing a coyote while out on a hike is a special treat to me. I love animals and our natural world. I know there are those who would rather see coyotes disappear from the Southland. I suppose there is a fear of the unknown.
Uneducated talk has made them out to be scary, puppy-eating, wild animals. While they are definitely wild, they are not the monsters that some people think.
They are very intelligent, beautiful animals that are highly adaptive to many different habitats, including our neighborhoods. Coyotes flourish over much of North America, from large cities and suburbs to deserts and grasslands.
With the abundant forest preserves in the Southland and other food sources that humans unintentionally supply for them, food is plentiful for coyotes. The coyote diet consists mainly of rabbits, mice and other small rodents, but they also eat frogs, insects, fruits and grasses.
With its keen vision and strong sense of smell, the coyote is a very efficient hunter. Humans can invite coyotes into their yards by not realizing that they’re supplying food sources for the animals.
Anything that attracts mice — such as unsecured garbage, excess bird seed, fruit from trees and scraps from barbecue grills — can attract a coyote. The coyote doesn’t want to be in your back yard, he just wants the mice. Coyotes play an important part in our ecosystem by controlling rodent populations.
Coyotes seem to adjust their behaviors around human activity. That’s why they are most often seen in the early morning or late at night.
Although you occasionally can spot them in the daytime, they prefer to stay away from people. Remember, we are the ones who encroached on their natural habitat.
Spring is the time of year when female coyotes are settling in their dens to have their pups. Coyotes have strong family groups, and both parents will feed and protect the young.
Coyotes will continue to be a part of our lives, so we need to adapt to their habits as well. Though they can be mistaken for domestic dogs, they are anything but domesticated.
If you encounter a coyote, you need to make noise. You never want to surprise a wild animal. Don’t turn away or run, just make sure you appear bigger and louder than the coyote. You are not what it wants to eat.
With some common sense and a few precautions, we should be able to peacefully co-exist with the “urban” coyote. If you have any questions regarding coyotes, you can call Tinley Park’s animal control officer at (708) 444-5315.
Library marks National Library Week
Another way you can learn more about coyotes, and everything else under the sun, is to visit the Tinley Park Library. From April 14 to 20, the library will be celebrating National Library Week. This is a great time to check out all that the library has to offer.
From books, ereaders and computers to programs, classes and concerts, the village’s library has something to offer for everyone in the family. On April 16, it will be serving coffee and doughnuts in the lobby. All week long, there will be an opportunity to enter a drawing to win a Kindle ereader.
During all of April, children 11 and under can color a special coloring sheet from Culver’s Restaurant and submit it to the library to get a certificate for a free scoop of Culver’s Frozen Custard. Kids will also be eligible to enter a drawing for a special surprise from the library.
If you’ve started your spring cleaning, you might want to take advantage of the library’s shredding event, hosted by the Friends of the Tinley Park Library, which will be from 9 to 11 a.m. April 27 in the 80th Avenue Metra station parking lot south of Timber Drive.
You may bring a maximum of two standard-sized paper boxes filled with your sensitive papers. Employees of the shredding company will remove them from your car and take them to the shredding truck at the site. For more information on Tinley Park Library events, visit www.tplibrary.org.
Happy spring everyone!