Letter: Wheaton Resident 'Disgusted' With City's 'Ineffective' Coyote Policy

A Wheaton resident responds after coyote attacks in and near Wheaton, criticizes city for not sending public notice. To send a letter to the editor, email Charlotte@Patch.com.

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The following is a letter Wheaton resident Kathy O'Brien sent to Wheaton Police Chief Mark Field:

Chief Field,
I am very dismayed to see that the Wheaton Police Department has decided to keep its head in the sand concerning the public safety of Wheaton residents after recent coyote attacks. To think that when a traffic accident occurs, an email is sent out... Yet this is what has happened four times within the last three weeks in a two-city area and will keep happening until the coyotes are killed.
One of the incidents had two dogs in a fenced backyard with the adult and the attack still occurred.
Your limited scope of postcard warnings of 750' is a joke unless you firmly believe that the coyotes only travel a 750' diameter and their attacks are centrally located in the specific area you have deemed deserves coverage.
You and the City of Wheaton are putting all of the responsibility on the residents to prevent attacks without even giving us the specifics of the past repeated attacks!
The 'coexist with coyotes' campaign is a stupid waste of energy of the police and city trying to appease certain loud mouth "residents." The actual taxpayers are being given stupid directives that have no bearing unless the coyotes both understand and will maintain what you believe is their proper behavior.
They are not solitary hunters when they are traveling and killing in packs of 4 or more. Keep in mind, I am the one who called 911 on the night of Monday the 18th of January 2010, to say I had 3 coyotes on my driveway. It went without any attention by the city/police until Mr. and Mrs. Graff's dog Buddy was attacked and killed on his property January 27, 2010.
They do not scatter when yelled at, or the schools would not have had inside recesses the many times that there were "too many coyotes" out on the playground/field.
When one is carrying their dog, they are not able to clap nor wave their hands, (as if that would work!).
When one is going out for a walk, one might be able to carry, bags, tissues, keys, cell phone, water, snacks and perhaps one projectile that the rules of engagement stipulate we are to be throwing at the coyotes, yet, it is unlikely that we are possibly carrying enough to keep up our assault as we have been told we must do.
I am disgusted with the policy in that the owners of pets, who not only provide notification to the homeowners of people lurking in their vicinity and are integral to the economy of several business in the Wheaton area, such as vets, pet stores and groomers, are being subjected to excessive threats in well built-up residential areas.
The coyote population is being allowed to become a massive year round threat and it seems until they attack a child or an adult defending their child or pet, the city wants to pretend it is not a problem, or at least not their problem, even though they supposedly are the local governing body.
When homeowners are not allowed to be in their own backyard, fenced or otherwise because coyotes that are not afraid of the human smell are on their back doorstep! Not at the perimeter of the yard, not 750' away but the inch of space adjacent to the dwelling itself should make any reasonable authority realize that the conditions where coyotes fear and stay away from humans is no longer being met.
It is a problem and it will show, whether you alert the public or not, that the city/police chose not to be effective and will be accountable for their inaction.
Kathy OBrien



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Shawn Starry October 23, 2012 at 09:16 AM
I guess some child WILL be attacked soon due to your ignorance attitudes. Ans its a matter of when. Unless Wheaton residents wise up and rally a legislation to have the dens hunted and reduce their numbers. And when it hits the news, "I told ya so!"
Peter October 23, 2012 at 07:32 PM
chrisrus you show us these reports of children being attacked and I noticed that some of them were "saved" by a parent. The real question here is why are children that young being left alone to play outside their homes. I have a 3 year old myself and would never think of leaving her alone outside. My biggest fear is some creep or pedophile snatching her up and kidnapping her, NOT coyote attacks!! I appreciate that you want to show that coyotes can be dangerous but don't just give the headlines. Were these all healthy, adult coyotes? were they habituated to people? In what vicinity were the adults to the children at the time of the attacks. I will say it again, why is it that many residents of Wheaton feel they cannot live with coyotes when every other community in the six collar county area are not having the same problems? Is Wheaton that unique and special? Many western states have to deal with mountain lions AND coyotes living in close proximity to humans and I have yet to hear a story similar to Wheaton's. If an animal has attacked a human, the government agencies have tracked down that particular animal(s) and "removed" them. They do not regularly trap and "remove" animals as a precautionary measure because it is a waste of taxpayer money and resources. People just need to act smarter than the animals to limit these conflicts because by our encroachment in their habitat, we are causing many of these problems and expect easy solutions when that is impossible.
chrisrus October 24, 2012 at 01:12 AM
If you can wrap your brain around it, please consider the possiblity that they were not left alone, but were attacked anyway. All the above is from the Timm, et. al. California study that I have repeatedly asked you all to download and read. It's free and easy to find. For the umteenth time, just Google "Coyote Attacks on Humans: an Increasing Suburban Problem" and you will know as much about those attacks as I do. Please also put these two names into a browser "Kelly Keen" and "Pamela Ferndin", and whatever you do, don't be like Pamela Ferndin by going around mouthing off about how people whose children have been attacked by coyotes are victims of child abuse with no basis when you have no basis for saying that.
Vincent October 24, 2012 at 01:54 AM
I agree with you, Peter. Obviously children being attacked in any manner is horrible, but I don't think we need to imagine that the only solution is to hunt/cull the coyotes. Had the children been better supervised, a majority of these attacks wouldn't have happened to begin with. Again, dogs attack people, including children, and the idea that we should kill every dog because of that would be ridiculous. As for why Wheaton is the only community that is rife with man-eating coyotes, I suspect that something in more than a few Wheatonites mentality has sparked this response of nature. Think of it as the "Egypt Problem": when Egypt got too big for it's britches, plagues descended on the land and put them in their place. First there were the wind storms and drought over the summer, and now it's the coyotes. I shudder to think what will come next. I imagine the Egyptians were saying, "I can't stand these frogs, we're going to have to cull them."
Peter October 24, 2012 at 02:06 AM
I did look at the article you mentioned and there is some good information in there but I do not believe the course of action described would work in every situation. It is basically saying that we must start killing set numbers of predatory animals to try and prevent any human-animal conflicts. So this means wasting taxpayer's money every year to keep these animals "under control." We already have deer culling done in many parts of the state each year in order to try and keep the deer numbers down. I agree with this action to a certain extent. I just saw an article today where a California person was attacked by a shark. So does that now mean that California will start killing sharks because people swim/surf in the ocean. When we start encroaching upon and into the territories of animals, we have to expect encounters, both friendly and not friendly to occur. This planet can sustain only so many animals and so many humans before nature starts balancing itself out on its own. Nature already does this in many ways. Humans keep thinking that we can continue to pave over and cut down natural areas without thinking what is going to happen to the wildlife that live there. When "problems" arise, then people want the animals removed because that is the easiest solution. It is easier to kill something and remove it than figure out how we can coexist relatively peacefully.
chrisrus October 24, 2012 at 04:00 AM
You think maybe that might have had something to do with those pumas not being habituated to the presence of humans?
chrisrus October 24, 2012 at 04:13 AM
You are right. The city of Wheaton should come up with some sort of protocol that incorporates Animal Control to handle the situation. Please if you would, petition them to do so. What's the right wording?
chrisrus October 24, 2012 at 04:21 AM
You say that they hunt in your yard almost every night after dark. Please if you would, get pictures and keep notes and such and share online. Try to find identifying characteristics of the particular individuals involved, look for signs of greater/lesser habituation.
H.I. McDunnough October 24, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Well said Peter.
chrisrus October 24, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Sharks aren't on your front porch. We aren't encroaching upon and into the territories of them, it's the other way around. Coyotes have not been pushed out of natural areas. They still live in those areas in the same or greater numbers as they ever have. Coyotes don't do better in natural areas than built up areas. Coyotes do much, much better in human built up areas than in natural areas. Humans areas offer much more food and water and protection from their other enemies. Our moving into natural areas has been great for coyotes. Humans are the best thing that ever happened to coyotes. Don't take it from me, read http://www.nature.com/news/rise-of-the-coyote-the-new-top-dog-1.10635.
Vincent October 25, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Wonderful comment!
Vincent October 25, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Wonderful comment, Peter!
Vincent October 25, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Chrisrus, this isn't an us or them issue! They're coyotes, for Pete's sake! Just mind the pets and children and stay away from the coyotes!
Peter October 25, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Chrisrus I will agree with you that urban sprawl has probably had a very beneficial effect on coyotes as it has for Canadian Geese and White-tailed deer. We cause these problems by creating corporate parks and other areas with manicured grass. These areas allow the "prey" animals to unobstructedly keep a watch out for predators. Chrisrus how can you say that animals are encroaching upon us? The suburban sprawl has created an asphalt jungle out there with all the corporate parks, strip malls, subdivisions, etc. that have had to plow thru and pave over natural areas that are inhabited by not only coyotes but also red foxes, raccoons, opossums, skunks, groundhogs, turtles, snakes and many other animals. People do not want to think of the impact this has on the natural community, instead we care only about building new homes, shopping malls, etc which causes us to spread out further and further. Animals must do the same thing when their populations get to dense for certain areas. Thusly, I believe that humans and animals have many similarities in population dynamics and we have no choice but to learn to coexist. Try reading Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" so you can get a glimpse of what the world would be like without animals. As for the oceans, we pollute them, we use them for recreation and for transporting goods so yes we are encroaching upon marine wildlife in a huge way.
unheard October 26, 2012 at 12:06 AM
I am so happy to read Vincent, Peter, H.I McDunnough and Christopher's posts. Chrisrus I just can't understand why you seem unable to see the many valid points that so many people are posting? It is really sounding like you simply want coyotes culled which will cost money and not help, as you yourself have said. It certainly makes me wonder why you want innocent animals simply trying to eat to be culled. If that is how you feel you could be honest about it instead of searching out needle in a haystack stories that really don't help your cause. Shawn Starr- it is quite apparent that you are simply looking for a job since you post your phone number and offers to "help" on this and other sites. If you are an experienced hunter, you would realize that killing these coyotes will only exacerbate the problem but, I guess it's all about a paycheck for you, huh?
Vincent October 26, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Another nice comment, Peter. I'm going to look up that book, "Silent Spring," that you mentioned, too. It sounds very interesting. The problems caused by our paving over the world really hit a chord with me. When we upset the balance of nature, it's hard to imagine the consequences for those actions. Without the prey animals, coyotes had to learn to adapt and we conveniently leave plenty for them to eat. Sadly, some of the things we leave around for them are the pets we profess to care about so greatly but then leave unprotected. I'm thinking that in time, the coyote populations will regulate themselves, as nature takes care of these things without our help. The only creature that nature has had trouble regulating the population of is humans, and I sometimes fear that eventually it will figure out how to do that, too. And, Chrisrus, it will not be at the "hands" of coyotes.
Vincent October 26, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Great points, Unheard! Maybe it's time to get to the bottom line and see that some folks around here--but by no means all--merely want to kill animals that have the audacity to "intrude" on their perfect lives. The rest of the world is too busy with real problems to worry about a few coyotes running around Wheaton. I'd love to see some of these folks trying to explain the urgency of this coyote situation to someone on the south side of Chicago, where people really have to worry about their children and certainly not from coyotes. In fact, south-siders would probably LOVE to trade their problems for Wheaton problems.
Vincent October 26, 2012 at 01:41 AM
And, Starry, isn't there some sort of work that you could put your hand to that would be more meaningful? I'd rather scavenge for scrap metal or take up pan-handling rather than make my living by ending life of any sort.
chrisrus October 26, 2012 at 03:18 AM
We need a definitive answer to this quesiton. Also, shooting off pepperspray and such. The humane society recommends water pistols with vinegar water whenever they seem to be getting habitated. Any coyote that is close enough to hit with a water pistol must be already too dangerously habituated. However, we shouldn't carry water pistols that like real guns, right?!! What kind should we get? The police should advise what sort of water pistol we should carry to shoot vinegar water with.
chrisrus October 26, 2012 at 03:20 AM
I meant to say the water pistols shouldn't "look like" real guns.
chrisrus October 26, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Kathy, you are right about it being ineffective, but don't be too hard on the Wheaton government. https://www.wheaton.il.us/coyotereport/ proves they have really been trying and listening to the community. You are also right that people who sign up for such e-mail from the police department shoudl be able to count on someone there making sure that everyone has heard, but the do have that map at https://www.wheaton.il.us/coyotereport/. I think that if everyone here would just do as they recommend at https://www.wheaton.il.us/coyotereport/, we might not have such serious problems.
chrisrus October 26, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Ok. You are saying that we need to contact Scott Garrow and follow his instructions, and then and only then we will be empowered to do what, exactly? I don't understand.
chrisrus October 26, 2012 at 04:10 AM
You say you read that, but you keep saying that our suburban sprawl and asphalt has pushed them here from somewhere else. It's not true. They like built up areas very much. There's lots of trash and water and rodents and so on,everything they need. We have "pushed them" out of nowhere, and they have expanded from their original range not only here but also basically everywhere else North America except the very northern shield of Alaska. They especially love cities and live in their greatest densities there. We have not caused them problems, it's the opposite. They are not here because they've been pushed out of elsewhere by us. They are here because they like it here better than in natual areas and if they've been pushed out of elsewhere it's been by other coyotes.
chrisrus October 26, 2012 at 06:18 AM
If you don’t want coyotes culled, you must behave in a hostile manner toward them. It’s called “coyote hazing” and should be done according to expert recommendations found at http://www.wheaton.il.us/Departments/police/safety/coyotes/default.aspx?id=5338, click “how to deter coyotes”. That is what coyote lovers must do: be cruel to be kind. If you haze them enough and do the other things like no more birdfeeders or compost and such, there won’t be so many incidents and we won’t even see them as much for a while and the life you save might not just be that of the coyotes. So all of us on all sides of the culling issue should do our best to follow the hazing protocols and report all sightings here http://www.wheaton.il.us/Departments/police/safety/coyotes/default.aspx?id=5338 click on ‘how to report a sighting” and read everything else at http://www.wheaton.il.us/Departments/police/safety/coyotes/default.aspx?id=5338 and do everything else we are supposed to do and Wheaton may be the place you want it to be, one in which they have learned to coexist with us by staying away. If the hazing and does not work, we will have to ratchet up, Wheaton will cull again, (see the same link but click and download the coyote management policy, page 13 number 4), so get to work and happy hazing!
H.I. McDunnough October 26, 2012 at 02:05 PM
So you are a vegan Vince? Whats your favorite lentil recipe?
Vincent October 27, 2012 at 12:39 AM
In case anyone is interested, this argument has moved over to the new story about Wheaton coyotes. Isn't it interesting that the words "Wheaton" and "coyote" are now paired together. No one talks about the Naperville coyotes, the Lisle coyotes, the Warrenville coyotes, etc. Perhaps it has something to do with a genetic flaw in the Wheatonite brain that make them susceptible to mass hysteria over virtually non-existent problems.
Vincent October 27, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Oh, and by the way, McDonnough, I can't even imagine what type of clever idea you have in posing your questions. If you're suggesting that Starry has a right to put food on the table by any means he can, I'm guessing that he could make a better living doing something more productive than killing supposedly nuisance animals.
unheard October 27, 2012 at 01:20 AM
chrisrus, as for your links, I will save everyone some time. Please click on the last link that chrisrus posted and simply scroll down to the very last sentence which states that fences don't always provide protection, please watch your pets. See, simple as pie! Wheaton will not cull again, since they already tried it and now there are more "issues." It will only exacerbate the problem which numerous citizens tried to tell them before. Due to Peter Roskam, presumably, they didn't listen so they will be extremely careful this time. It really also boils down to a simple basic point which is .... how would you feel if you had to fear being shot simply for trying to eat? Sadly, some posting here don't seem to be able to think with empathy or sympathy though. They seem to love the idea of looking something in the eye and shooting it instead. Well, I believe what goes around comes around. If they don't mind that on their conscience what can you possibly say?
chrisrus October 27, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Don't ignore the rest, read it all. Your taxes paid for http://www.wheaton.il.us/Departments/police/safety/coyotes/default.aspx?id=5338 , so read it. At Stage Three, "coyotes are frequently seen during the day, appearing in yards on an increasing basis, but they flee when approached by people. Pets in yards are attacked", then Wheaton will "consider removal program", and at Stage Four, "Coyotes taking pets from yards, approaching people without fear, acting aggressive, growling and barking when subject to a negative stimuli, following children", they "hire trappers". It says "Of all the full control techniques used to date, trapping has had the greatest observed effect of reinstalling a fear of humans into the local coyote population. Where 2-5 coyotes are trapped in a problem locality, the remaining coyotes will often disperse, although this partially depends on the size of the area and the number of coyote family units in residence and the existing level of wariness in the animals. At locations where leg hold traps have been used successfully, coyote problems typically have not reoccurred for at least two years and usually longer."
unheard October 27, 2012 at 01:54 PM
chrisrus, yet again, you foolishly wrote what you choose to ignore. Coyotes "will flee when approached by people" Your words/post, not mine. Soooo... I will write it again and see if you ignore it again. WATCH YOUR PETS!!!! And traps are very cruel-sympathy time here, though you don't ever respond to that either, You see, OFTEN other animals and even children become victims of them. Solution: once again watch your pets as most dog owners do, considering how much this issue has been discussed lately, it should be blatantly apparent, right? Care to respond to this specifically-probably not since there's no bloodshed involved. Only kindness and TRUE solutions, something you don't seem intelligent enough to understand. See, you can't only post and discuss the parts you choose too. Other people reading these see right through this, in a heartbeat. Your avoidance of kind solutions is extremely apparent and disturbing.


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