ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Coyotes are one of many animals that roam through the state of Illinois, and can at times become a nuisance for residents as they have been known to attack domesticated pets.

Coyotes are Illinois’ biggest predators and they are making themselves at home in Rockford. Residents are becoming scared for their pets and even small children.

“They’re losing their fear of humans, and they’re going to approach people expecting food,” said Stan McTaggart, the Wildlife Diversity Manager at the Illinois DNR, said in 2020.

In December, a coyote attacked a 2-year-old in broad daylight in a Los Angeles neighborhood, and the attack was caught on video.

In July 2021, a Rockford couple’s pet Maltese was killed by a coyote in their front yard.

City Hall points out that removing food sources like bird food, pet food and securing trash are good ways to cut down on the presence of coyotes.

According to Coyote Hunting 101, in the state of Illinois, it is legal to hunt coyotes as long as hunters obtain a hunting license and a habitat stamp, unless exempt.

Non-Illinois residents are also permitted to hunt for coyotes as long as they meet the required guidelines.

Unlike other regulated hunting which has specific seasons, in Illinois, it is legal to hunt for coyotes year-round.

Coyotes may be hunted on private property, with the assistance of dogs, archery devices, any type of caliber of handgun, or legal rifles including large-capacity semiautomatic rifles and shotguns.

In Illinois, it is illegal to hunt for coyotes from a vehicle.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources advises the following when dealing with coyotes in an urban environment:

What safety precautions should people take if they see coyotes in their neighborhood?

Seeing a coyote in your neighborhood does not necessarily make it a problem animal

Determine if the coyote(s) is/are being aggressive and exhibiting *problem behaviors:

Frequently seen during daylight hours and approaching people with little fear

Stalking behaviors/following people or pets

Approaching people aggressively, growling or barking when hazed

Most nuisance/problem coyotes are being fed (directly or indirectly)

Feeding coyotes can cause them to lose their fear of humans and associate people with food, emboldening them

Identify food sources in areas where coyotes are observed and remove them

Work with municipal officials to enforce feeding bans and remove food sources

Inform city officials of problem animals(s) and raise neighborhood awareness

Use ‘negative stimuli’ (e.g. yelling, waving arms, walking stick or throwing rocks)

Consider a removal program for problem animals in conjunction with education and elimination of food/feeding

Do not run away from coyotes, stand your ground and back away slowly if confronted

Be aware of the season and how it may affect coyote behavior

Aggressive behaviors and negative encounters between coyotes and domestic dogs are more common in the breeding season (Feb – March) and when raising pups (June – Aug)

Coyotes that are in poor condition from disease or injury may act more aggressively than healthy/normal coyotes

Females with pups may be aggressive if you or your dog get ‘too close’ to them