Wild Animals

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Wild Animals

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 Wild Animals / Animal Control

The Hoffman Estates Police Department does not trap or pick up wild animals from your residence unless it is deemed an immediate threat. This means that unless the animal is attacking or threatening to attack someone, we will not trap or pick up the animal. If the animal is not deemed a threat, it is classified a nuisance animal complaint. You as the homeowner will need to contact a licensed animal trapper to come to your residence and remove the animal.

As a service to our citizens the Village of Hoffman Estates works to ensure that a licensed and insured animal control specialist is available for these calls. The current contract service provider is Animal Trackers Wildlife Company.  There is a set rate charged by contract with the Village for most wild animals. This fee includes trap delivery, setup, initial baiting, consultation and 1 animal pickup. Please remember that this does not guarantee an animal capture and that there are additional fees for subsequent and nontarget animals.

For additional details please contact:

Animal Trackers

165 Bradley Lane
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
(847) 884-1057




foxWhat do coyotes look like?
Coyotes are a breed of canines and resemble small German shepherd dogs in markings and build. However, coyotes are significantly smaller than a German shepherd—the average length of an adult is 44 to 54 inches, including its 15- to 17-inch tail. The average weight of an adult coyote measured during fall and winter (their more sedentary season) from 22 to 42 pounds. Coyotes carry their tails lower than dogs, generally below the level of the back, rather than curved upward like dogs. Coyotes’ upper bodies are typically light gray to dull yellow, but can be mostly black, nearly all gray or white. Their underbodies are whitish, cream colored or pinkish yellow. The muzzle of a coyote is long and narrow; ears are pointed upright.

Where do coyotes live?
Coyotes are very adaptable animals that can live in a variety of environments, from rural to urban areas. Coyotes are most abundant in areas with a mixture of farmland, woodland and grasslands.

What are natural coyote behaviors?
Coyotes are transitory animals and live in large areas, often 20 to 30 miles in diameter. Several coyotes may share such an area, living as a pack. Since they are territorial animals, coyotes rarely intrude the area of another pack. However, some coyotes do not belong to packs and may have a larger range that encompasses multiple packs’ ranges. If a member of a pack dies or leaves, the solitary coyote may join the pack.

Like other canines, coyotes communicate by barking, yipping and howling. These noises are only forms of communication—not a sign of predatory or aggressive behavior. Coyotes make these noises in response to other noises they hear, including human-made noises such as sirens.

Coyotes are generally nocturnal and prefer to be active from dusk until dawn, but coyotes can be seen during daylight hours. Like other canines, coyotes have the ability to run at high speeds for short distances (up to 43 miles per hour) and can swim well. Since coyotes live in such large areas, it is not abnormal to see a coyote walking or running through open or wooded areas, along paths (including streets or sidewalks for suburban and urban dwellers) in search of food or water.

Generally, coyotes live for three or four years.

What do coyotes eat?
The majority of a coyote’s diet consists of animal matter, largely rabbits and mice. Coyotes are natural predators that help control the populations of rabbits and mice in their natural environment. Coyotes also eat insects, birds, fruits, berries or other food sources that are available (especially food or garbage left outdoors overnight).

When do coyotes reproduce?
Most females reproduce in their second year of age, though some reproduce in their first year. Breeding peaks in late February/early March, typically for a period of two to five days during this time. The gestation (pregnancy) period for coyotes is 58 to 63 days, and pups are often born during April and May in a den under a hollow tree, log, brush pile or even an abandoned building (any place where the mother can shelter her pups). Coyotes often re-use dens created by other animals.

How do pups behave?
Litters are typically four to nine pups, though litters as small as two and as large as 19 have been recorded. Like many animals in their infancy, pups are blind and helpless at birth, therefore reliant on their mothers for food and protection. Pups open their eyes between eight and 14 days of age and first emerge from the den around the age of 21 days. At the age of five or six weeks, pups leave the den for extended periods of time. Until the age of eight to 12 weeks, pups rely on their parents to hunt for them and return food. At this age, pups begin learning to hunt for themselves and the family moves away from the den at this time. During the summer and fall months, the young break from their parents and may move up to 120 miles away in search of their own area.

What are the alpha male and alpha female?

The alpha male and alpha female are the dominant male and female coyotes in a pack. If an alpha male leaves the pack or dies, another male becomes the alpha male or another alpha male moves in to the pack.

What is abnormal or aggressive coyote behavior?
Walking, running, barking, howling and hunting rabbits or rodents are NOT considered aggressive behaviors. Aggressive behavior may be exhibited when alpha males feel their territory is being threatened by another animal. Females may behave aggressively when rearing their pups in the spring—pups are helpless for the first few weeks of their lives, so their mothers are very protective.

How do humans and coyotes coexist?

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, coyotes do more good than harm where humans are concerned. Coyotes help control rodent populations, but may occasionally kill other animals, such as livestock, poultry or small domestic animals. There have been no reports of coyotes attacking domestic animals or humans in the Village of Hoffman Estates.

Some people are under the impression that trapping or euthanizing coyotes will eliminate them from an area. However, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, trapping or euthanizing coyotes will not eliminate coyotes from an area. Coyotes are transitory animals that search out areas of their own—if one coyote is removed, another will soon take its place.

Tips for living with coyotes:
• Do not leave food or water sources out at night, including pet food and water, unsecured garbage cans, etc.
• Keep dogs on leashes and bring cats in at night.
• Never feed coyotes.
• If you do not want coyotes to be attracted to your yard, do not make it attractive. Feeding wildlife such as birds, squirrels, etc., will only attract a high concentration of such animals to your yard, making it an easy hunting ground for coyotes.
• If a coyote acts aggressively or approaches a domestic animal or a human, do not engage the coyote. Shout, wave your arms, clap your hands, make loud noises, etc. If you or your pet does not threaten or engage the coyote, the coyote will be the first to run away.

 Red Fox

red foxSpring is here and that means more contact with the local wildlife. Many residents are reporting red fox sightings in their neighborhood and wonder if they should be concerned. In the spring Fox families become more visible. Kits (young foxes) may be seen at the den. Adults may be spotted while they are out foraging for food to bring back to the kits. (April-May). Red fox are sighted frequently because they prefer open habitats and are not strictly nocturnal; it is not unusual to see a red fox during the daytime. The red fox occurs over most of North America and are a natural inhabitant of Illinois.

Foxes breed from January through March and, after an average gestation period of 51 to 53 days, give birth to a litter averaging four or five pups. The red fox may dig its own burrow but usually improves an abandoned woodchuck burrow. Most foxes have more than one den and will readily move their young if disturbed. The pups stay in the den until about four to five weeks of age, after which they emerge and begin to play outside the den entrance. Both adults care for the young by bringing food and guarding the den site. At about 12 weeks, the pups are weaned and join the adults on hunting forays, learning to catch food on their own. In the fall, the young disperse from the family unit and will usually breed during their first winter at about one year old

Foxes, especially red foxes, commonly live in close association with human residences and communities. They frequently inhabit yards, parks, and golf courses, especially areas that adjoin suitable, undeveloped habitat. Healthy foxes pose virtually no danger to humans. Foxes can grow accustomed to human activity but are seldom aggressive toward people. Expanding housing development, particularly in historically rural areas, increases the chances of interactions between humans and foxes, as well as other wildlife. Many homeowners do not realize that their lawn may be a more attractive habitat to foxes than surrounding mature forest. Eliminating healthy foxes is not warranted based solely on human safety concerns. People uncomfortable with the presence of foxes should remove attractants, exclude foxes with fencing and employ scaring techniques. Trapping and relocating foxes is not recommended. In many cases, homeowner's perceptions of problems are unfounded and in some cases, the mere presence of a fox is perceived as a problem.

Foxes that travel into residential yards should be harassed or scared with loud noises to prevent them from becoming habituated. During the spring, disturbing a den site physically or with unnatural odors such as moth balls, may prompt foxes to move to an attractive den which may be farther from yards and houses. Potential food sources, such as pet food, meat scraps on compost piles, and fruit below fruit trees should be eliminated.

Fox are a natural resident of Illinois and pose virtually no danger to humans. Fox sightings are an excellent opportunity to enjoy nature, take pictures, and show your children.

For more information about the Village of Hoffman Estates animal control program please visit the Hoffman Estates Police Departments web site and click on Animal Control, or visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website at http://dnr.state.il.us/ and look at the Living with Animals page.


skunkIn recent weeks, residents have been reminded of the presence of skunks in their neighborhoods by their less then popular “scent” left behind. Residents are reminded to survey their property on a regular basis so they can eliminate possible den sites on their property. Once a den site has been established, removal of these animals is the residents’ responsibility, along with the costs.

A striped skunk is about the size of a domestic cat, but its legs are much shorter. Total length ranges from 20 to 30 inches. Males vary in weight from 3 to 11.7 pounds. Females tend to be smaller, usually 2.6 to 8.6 pounds. The skunk has a triangular-shaped head that tapers to a rounded, nearly ball-shaped nose. Its ears are small and rounded and its eyes are small, black, and beady. The front feet are each equipped with five toes that have long, curved claws. Toes on the hind feet have shorter, straighter claws. A skunk's tail is long and bushy.

Most of the head and body are glossy black. A narrow white stripe extends from the top of the nose to the forehead. A white patch on the back of the neck tapers into a single white stripe that extends to the shoulders then splits into two stripes that continue down the top or sides of the back. Other markings include some white hairs in the tail and occasionally a small white patch on the chest.

Skunks discharge an obnoxious scent when provoked. This scent or musk is secreted by two internal glands located at the base of the tail. The glands open to the outside through small nipples which are hidden when the tail is down and exposed when it's raised. A skunk has voluntary control over the glands and can control the direction in which the musk is discharged. The glands contain about one tablespoon of thick, volatile, yellowish, oily liquid. This musk (the chemical name is butylmercaptan) has been detected at distances of up to 20 miles away from where it was discharged. The compound is painful to the eyes, but does not cause permanent blindness.

Skunks are found in almost every neighborhood. If you have seen them near your residence and are concerned about it, please visit the following Illinois Department of Natural Resources website for suggestions on how to prevent or deal with skunks. The Village of Hoffman Estates does not handle wildlife issues and it is the homeowner’s responsibility to contact a wildlife control company.

Distribution & Abundance

 Striped skunks are common and found throughout Illinois. Rural areas with rolling hills or bluffs and a mixture of farmland, timber and pastureland tend to support the highest numbers. Striped skunks are abundant in some urban areas, especially those located along railroads or high-tension power lines because these features provide travelways and denning sites. Outbreaks of diseases like rabies and distemper can cause a striped skunk population to decline sharply. Overall, this species is probably less common now than it was 50 years ago because small cattle operations and small grain farming have given way to larger, less diverse crop farms.


Striped skunks use a wide variety of habitats but prefer forest borders, brushy areas, and open, grassy fields broken by wooded ravines and rock formations. Permanent water is usually close by. Skunks can dig their own dens, but prefer to use those excavated by badgers, woodchucks, or other animals. Den sites also include stumps, caves, rock piles, old buildings, junk piles, sheds, wood piles and dry drainage tiles or storm sewers.


Striped skunks are active at night and occasionally during the daylight hours of early morning or late evening. They live in an area 1 to 1 1/2 miles in diameter, but use only a small part of this on any given night. While skunks aren't likely to move long distances, some have traveled as far as six miles away from where they were captured.

Skunks are slow-moving and docile. Their senses of sight, hearing, and smell are poor compared to many predators. When cornered or pursued closely, they usually face the intruder, arch their backs, raise their tails, and stamp the ground with their front feet. If a skunk's warning is ignored, it turns around with its tail raised and facing the threat so that it's in a good position for discharging its musk. Most predators avoid skunks, but domestic dogs, coyotes, badgers and great-horned owls kill a few. Diseases, vehicles and farm machinery are more important sources of mortality.

Striped skunks eat a lot during the fall and build a thick layer of fat by the end of October. Building a fat reserve provides energy through the winter when they spend most of their time sleeping inside dens. Skunks are not true hibernators. They venture out of their dens for short distances when temperatures are near the freezing mark and snow conditions are favorable. As many as 10 skunks have been found together in some winter dens, but many live alone.


Skunks eat equal amounts of plant and animal foods during fall and winter. Insects are their preferred food, and make up the bulk of their diet in spring and summer. Bees, grasshoppers and beetles are common fare. Skunks also eat mice, young rabbits, ground squirrels, voles, birds and bird eggs. Plant foods include corn, black cherries, nightshades and ground-cherries. Skunks sometimes eat carrion.

Skunks often dig for grubs (the immature life stage of beetles), leaving conical holes 2 to 3 inches across and about as deep. Removal of these pests is beneficial to humans. However, the holes can be unsightly on golf courses and residential lawns. Yards that are fertilized and watered throughout the summer tend to have more grubs and provide good feeding areas for skunks. Using an approved pesticide that kills the grubs usually solves the problem by sending the skunks somewhere else to look for food.


Breeding begins in February and lasts through March. The pregnancy period ranges from 62 to 72 days. A single litter of four to 10 young is born from early May to early June. Newborns don't have much hair, but still show faint black and white color markings. Litter mates can have different patterns, ranging from broad white stripes to nearly no stripes at all. Young skunks begin to leave the den and take short trips with their mother by late June or early July. They grow rapidly, nearing adult size by their tenth month.


Little habitat management occurs specifically for striped skunks. Practices aimed at improving conditions for wildlife like the pheasant, bobwhite quail and eastern meadowlark are good for skunks as well. Soil conservation measures supported by the Conservation Reserve Program provide benefits for striped skunks and many other types of grassland wildlife. Most Illinois farmers have switched to no-till or reduced tillage farming techniques. These practices benefit wildlife by leaving crop stubble, stalks, leaves and waste grains in the field rather than plowing them under and exposing bare soil.

Few striped skunks are harvested for their fur. A year-round hunting season allows people who have problems with skunks (killing poultry or causing other damage) to remove them without a special permit. (Note: Shooting skunks in urban areas is usually illegal because of laws that prohibit the discharge of firearms within city limits.) Trapping is allowed during parts of November through January, but may not be practical in urban areas because of state laws. People who live in urban areas should call the Department of Natural Resources for the names of specially licensed nuisance animal control operators who can be hired to solve problems with skunks.