The surprisingly large numbers of wild animals that call Oak Park home typically keep to themselves. But as winter weather makes their search for food and shelter more difficult, the odds of residents coming into contact with a wild animal increase. Typically, the biggest problem with wild animals in a dense, built-up community like Oak Park is the property damage they can cause when seeking shelter. Squirrels gnawing a hole in the soffit to get into the attic and raccoons, skunks and opossums burrowing under decks, porches and garage foundations are among the more common nuisance issues property owners face.
Be cautious, but don’t run from a coyote…As coyotes have made it clear they are at home in Oak Park, wildlife experts agree that simply seeing one does not necessarily constitute a problem or a dangerous situation. If a coyote approaches, they say do not run, but yell, stand up straight, clap your hands and wave your arms — or even throw something to scare it away. However, if a coyote is aggressive or shows no fear, move to a safe location and contact the Animal Control Division at 708.358.5680. Be sure to provide details including the date and address where the interaction occurred. To discourage coyotes from being attracted to your property, limit the amount of bird and pet food left outside. Garbage also should be stored securely — even though coyotes are not likely to eat garbage, they may be attracted by the rodents that do. In addition, do not leave small pets, especially cats, outside unattended. A fence at least four feet high can help prevent entry into the yard.
Traps available…The Health Department leases traps to local property owners who want to try and catch a wild animal causing property damage. Visit Village Hall, 123 Madison St., between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday – Thursday and complete a short application form. A refundable $50 or $75 cash or check deposit is required, depending on the size of the trap. The number of traps is limited, so be sure to call 708.358.5680 and check on availability prior to visiting Village Hall. If you capture an animal, the Village’s Animal Control officer will deal with the trap’s contents. What happens to the animal after it is trapped — whether release or euthanasia — depends on its propensity to spread disease. State and federal laws govern the fate of wild animals caught in populous areas. As for the coyotes and foxes that also call Oak Park home, officials say trying to trap them is difficult at best. Instead, eliminate any potential outside food sources, including unattended small pets.
More information…Extensive information on how to make property less vulnerable to nuisance wildlife in urban areas, as well contact info for local nuisance wildlife control professionals, visit www.dnr.illinois.gov and use the search feature. For more information on dealing with nuisance wild animals in Oak Park, call 708.358.5480 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.