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All quiet on the Elburn coyote front

People should remove outdoor pet food sources to prevent attracting coyotes.
People should remove outdoor pet food sources to prevent attracting coyotes.

ELBURN – Some Elburn residents may suspect there was an increase in the local coyote population last year based on seemingly increased sightings. But one veteran St. Charles-based wildlife professional said if there was an uptick, it was likely several years earlier.

“Last year, the Elburn area coyote population possibly leveled off or slightly declined due to sarcoptic mange,” Mark Romano, whom with fellow partners/coyote experts Rob Erickson, Dave Munch and Zendal Carroll comprise DeKalb/Sycamore-based Scientific Wildlife Management, said.

“For the most part, coyotes don't get into trouble,” he added. “But if they lose fear of humans, that can be problematic. A coyote is a predator, not a pet. They kill to eat. There's no municipality, village, city or county in Illinois not inhabited by them. But I didn't field one coyote complaint in Elburn last year.”

Romano spots coyotes with mange annually, but saw more manged coyotes in 2017 than the last five years in DuPage, Kane, Cook and Kendall counties.

“It can be the result from coyote overpopulation,” he explained. “These social animals can pass mange around to each other.”

Mange is a progressive skin disease caused by parasitic mites that cause coyotes to chew mite hot spots to relieve itching. This results in lost fur, open flesh wounds and even death. Mange, as well as heart worms, can compromise a coyote's senses and hunting ability.

"We do not get many calls regarding coyotes in town,” Elburn Police Chief Nick Sikora said. “Normally, they are just passing through. These are natural animals to our area and generally don’t interact with humans. They could come into populated areas seeking a food source; however, this has not been a problem for us at this time with any attacks.”

Scientific studies would be needed to learn how many coyotes live near Elburn. Although they prefer eating rodents, rabbits, birds and other natural foods, they're opportunistic and will dine on pet food. The latter situation increases potential for pet attacks, Romano said.

Coyotes eat daily and are on the hunt day and night. The hunting territory for a male is generally within a four-mile radius; females, a one-mile radius. Both can overlap with other animals' and coyotes' territories. Coyotes routinely return to familiar hunting paths every three to four days.

Elburn residents concerned about coyote sightings on or near their property should leave them alone and remove outdoor food sources. If these coyotes remain, contact animal control professionals who can install cameras on the premises to determine if removal is necessary. Once a coyote increasingly approaches people, it should be removed, Romano advised.

“Always pay attention to your surroundings because a variety of wild animals are everywhere,” Romano warned. “Look in the back yard before letting your dogs out. Coyotes may become exponentially aggressive with continuing human interaction. The more wild animals and people that live together in the suburbs, the more potential there is for a problem.”