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Experts Disagree On Best Solution To Keep Coyotes At Bay

Coyotes are increasingly common in the western suburbs, putting small-pet owners on alert. (DuPage County Forest District)

Coyotes are increasingly common in the western suburbs, putting small-pet owners on alert. (DuPage County Forest District)

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(CBS) — We keep hearing about more cases of coyotes attacking small dogs. There was an incident in North Aurora this week and another in Antioch last week.

And the Wheaton area has been hard hit with several attacks.

So, how do you stop it? As CBS 2’s Bill Kurtis reports, it’s a hot-button issue with no easy answers.

When Sue Reid and her daughter, Kendall, walk their dogs now, they carry a stick.

“I don’t feel comfortable being outside by myself,” Kendall says.

That’s because on the evening of Sept. 20, their two dogs were attacked by six coyotes in their backyard in unincorporated Wheaton.

“I could see their fangs. They were in full attack mode,” Sue says.

One dog, Jake, survived, but their Yorkie, Floyd, was killed. It was one of four attacks on dogs in the Wheaton area over the last two months.

Coyote sightings in Wheaton are up. In October of 2011, residents reported eight incidents. Last month, the number jumped to 52.

Coyotes like the Wheaton area because there’s plenty of food and lots of green spaces for them. The Prairie Path is a super highway for them.

To look for coyotes, Kurtis went out at dawn with wildlife control specialist Rob Erickson to four different spots in Wheaton. At a location near the Prairie Path, he set up a speaker broadcasting animals sounds.

Sure enough, in about three minutes, one came running out, and then another — less than a block from a residential area.

Mayor Michael Gresk says Wheaton’s policy for dealing with coyotes is to coexist with them. It’s called “hazing,” and it means conquering your fear and learning how to scare coyotes off.

“Look large, make noise, whistle,” the mayor says. “I have an old pop bottle filled with pennies that I shake.”

But, coyotes adapt quickly. Erickson doesn’t think hazing is effective. The trapper believes in lethal control of the coyotes that become a nuisance, but the Humane Society says hazing is the best policy.

“It is almost impossible to target the problem coyotes and also the population will just regenerate itself,” Kristen Strawbridge says.

But Erickson took us to a suburban neighborhood where he trapped several coyotes.

“They have been basically coyote-free for four years,” he says.

The Reid family isn’t sure what the right solution is.  Kendall has a new puppy, but she’s still afraid.

“I don’t think I should feel that way. This is my neighborhood,” she says.

The Humane Society believes that over time hazing, such as waving your arms, yelling and throwing something, does work to make coyotes avoid humans. But wildlife experts say if a coyote becomes a nuisance, lethal control is the best solution.

The reason we’re hearing about more sightings is not because there are more coyotes. It’s because they are losing their fear of us.

By the way, it’s essential now to not let pets run loose.