Critters in the Park

Coyotes

Coyotes have been sighted on Vernon Hills residential streets and in parks (including Century Park) during the fall months. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources advises that attempts to trap or remove stray coyotes from a developed area are both unrealistic and temporary. Instead, the IDNR advises the public to simply avoid contact and remove potential food sources.

Although coyotes are generally fearful of humans, if you do find yourself confronted by a coyote you should try to make yourself appear as large as possible. Wave your arms, stand up straight and make noise. A coyote will usually try to avoid a confrontation.

In order to discourage coyotes from staying in the neighborhoods, residents are urged to heed the advice of the experts:

  • Do not attempt to befriend or feed coyotes.
  • Do not leave pet food outside, it will attract coyotes and other animals.
  • Add ammonia to food waste to mask scent.
  • Keep garbage in tightly closed containers; only put them out on the morning of trash pick up.
  • For more information visit www.vernonhills.org/police/newres/coyote.pdf.*

*The information contained in the last two paragraphs was excerpted from the Pioneer Press, Vernon Hills Review, p 5, November 18, 2004.

Geese

Most people would agree that geese are beautiful and magnificent wild birds. The key word in that sentence is "wild". Geese have developed migratory patterns over the years that can be disrupted by well-meaning people. When the birds in transit stop in our lakes and ponds for short rests and food, they can be easily persuaded to extend their "temporary" breaks by people who feed the birds, unaware that they are not only disrupting the geese's natural migratory patterns, but posing a health and environmental threat.

The High Environmental and Human Costs of Feeding Geese

All too often, newly "tamed" geese, or birds who have been fed by humans, lose their fear of things human and congregate in large numbers in urban settings, contributing to problems on roadways and on airport runways. In addition, when large numbers of the birds graze, trample and defecate on grasses, it can negatively impact maintenance costs of parks, golf courses and residential lawns. The excess nutrients in goose droppings in lakes and ponds may also result in water quality problems such as noxious algae blooms in the summertime.

Health Implications for Geese

Aside from the facts that geese in our parks cause a mess and can create health and safety related issues for human park users, feeding them can be harmful for the goose! Too much competition for food between geese in small, concentrated areas, when combined with the stresses of harsh weather and eating less nutritious food, increases the susceptibility of geese to life threatening diseases like avian cholera, duck plague and avian botulism.

So the next time you may be tempted to "feed the geese", please give it a second thought. Both the geese and you will be better off if you observe them from a distance and let them stay wild.

P.S. And if that still doesn't convince you, consider the fact that it is a violation of a Park District Ordinance, with a minimum of a $50 fine, to feed wild animals in District parks, including geese.

Mosquitoes

The Vernon Hills Park District does not spray its parks for mosquitoes. However, the Village of Vernon Hills has a mosquito control program which encompasses all of Vernon Hills. More information can be obtained by contacting the Village Public Works department or by visiting the Park Maintenance and Information page of this website.

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