The following information was obtained from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Coyote web page.

The coyote resembles a small German shepherd dog, but carries its tail coyote_in_fieldbelow the level of the back rather than curved upward. Its upper body is typically light gray to dull yellow, but can vary from mostly black to nearly all gray or white. Course outer hairs are usually tipped with black. The underparts are whitish, cream colored or pinkish yellow. A coyote's muzzle is long and narrow; its ears are erect and pointed. The average length of an adult is 44 to 54 inches, including a 15- to 17-inch tail. Weights measured during fall and winter vary from 22 to 42 pounds.

Coyotes are valuable members of the wildlife community and do more good than harm where humans are concerned. However, they occasionally kill livestock, poultry, and domestic pets, especially where coyotes live in large numbers or in close association with people. Eliminating all of the coyotes in an area is not a realistic goal because voids will be filled quickly. Fortunately, removing individuals with “bad behaviors” usually solves a problem even when other coyotes continue to live in an area.


Attacks on humans are extremely rare considering the range and abundance of coyotes. According to the Cook County Urban Research Project - There has not been a single coyote bite or attack reported on humans in northeastern Illinois. Domestic dog bites are far more common than bites by wild animals. If you see an animal that resembles a coyote, do not attempt to feed it. Whether domestic dog or coyote, animals wandering at large should not be approached. If you are not sure, call your local animal control or police department. Report any bite by an animal promptly.

The Village of Vernon Hills does not trap coyotes. The Police Department will respond to concerns about coyotes, but residents must realize there is little that can be done about them. They are a fixture of nature and are very beneficial to the ecosystem. Recognize that seeing one cross your backyard does not necessarily constitute a problem.

The following strategies are recommended by both the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the University of Illinois:

To minimize potential problems with coyotes, residents should:  

  • Securely store garbage.
  • Keep birds feeding areas clean of debris, even well maintained feeders can attract rodents. In turn, this may attract coyotes.
  • Use squirrel-proof bird feeders. In an urban environment coyotes naturally feed on mice, voles, rabbits, and woodchucks. When natural prey populations decline, it has been shown that squirrels that visit bird feeders become easy prey for coyotes.
  • Feed pets indoors. 
  • Do not leave small pets like rabbits, cats, or small dogs outside unattended, especially at night.

Vernon Hills residents with concerns or questions can contact the Vernon Hills Police Department at 847-362-4449 and press 0 to be connected to a telecommunicator.  If needed call 911 immediately.

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