Popular Libertyville trail closed to dog walkers over coyote concerns

LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A popular trail in a northwest suburb has been closed off to dog walkers due to fears that wild animals could attack.

Several people have said that coyotes trailed them while walking their dogs in the Old School Forest Preserve in Libertyville, roughly 40 miles northwest of Chicago. Many said the coyotes have come out at dusk, around 8 p.m.

No attacks have been reported. But the Lake County Forest Preserve District doesn't want to take any chances.

Officials have closed off a portion of a trail, known as the "yellow loop," to dog walkers since July 9.

Heather Paul said the Old School Forest Preserve is one of her go-to places to take her dogs. Paul said she's seen coyotes in the area before, but the animals are now acting more aggressively.

"They have been around for years, but they have been more bold. They come and they sit and they watch us walk by, which is very scary," Paul said.

Allison Frederick, a spokeswoman for the forest preserve district, said the coyotes attempt to scare dog walkers away by snarling.

"There were no attacks here, it was just what we call shadowing," Frederick said. "The wild dog notices a domestic dog, comes up, takes a look. 'Oh, it's still in my den area, I'm going to scare this thing away.'"

She said coyote pups that were born in the spring tend to leave their dens and venture off during this time of year. Their mother, father or siblings become overly protective and try to scare other canines away.

Frederick told dog walkers to keep their pets on a leash. She warned that visitors shouldn't run if they see a coyote.

"What you want to do is stand your ground, stay calm until the coyote moves past," Frederick said. "Make your hands big, and 'Get out of here, shoo,' like you would with a dog that you don't want in your own backyard."

The forest preserve plans on reopening the portion of the trail in mid-August. Officials said by then, the coyote pups are usually long gone from their den.
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