ROCKFORD - In Rockford, the area around Riverside Boulevard and Perryville Road has seen a lot of success and growth. That growth has brought businesses and homes into what was once cornfields and wide open spaces, but nature hasn't kept up with the city's progress.
Rockford resident Mary Maier's nightmare came to life the moment she saw two coyotes take off with her dog Ernie.
"They pulled him through the fence and took off with him," said Maier.
Her husband tried to chase after them with no luck. Maier lost hope of ever seeing Ernie again until she heard something hitting the garage door the next morning.
"I thought it was the wind," said Maier. "But I thought, 'Well, I'm going to go out and see what was going on'. He was laying there half dead, he was covered in frost and there was blood all over the place."
They rushed Ernie to the emergency room where they were told he probably wouldn't make it.
"He had a broken rib, punctured lung and 30 puncture bites on his body," said Maier.
Miraculously, the four year old miniature schnauzer survived. Maier says after talking to neighbors, she learned at least 10 other dogs had been attacked in their area over the years.
"We knew that there was coyotes around and we'd seen them out there," said Maier. "But, we thought we were fairly safe because we have a 5 foot fence."
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is all too familiar with coyotes. IDNR director of communications Ed Cross says having coyotes in urban or suburban areas is becoming far more common.
"When you look at the loss of habitat that wild animals see in a day to day basis, these animals need to find new places and ways to survive," said Cross. "Often times, that means appearing in a subdivision."
Cross says tips to protect you and your pet from coyotes include:
-Make sure garbage is stored securely
-Do not leave small dogs outside unattended, especially at night
-If a coyote approaches you, make noise and wave your arms
-If there is a spotting.. alert other residents in the neighborhood and the local municipality.
Cross says the coyote population across Illinois is considered normal.
"The biggest thing to do to limit attacks is educating the people of Illinois," said Cross.
In the aftermath, Maier says she has spoken to her vet about developing a database with Rockford veterinarians to track and monitor coyote attacks. She hopes something can be done to reduce the number of coyote spotting and attacks in residential neighborhoods.
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