Common throughout the state and are abundant in some suburban areas, especially those near railroads or rights-of-way for high-tension power lines because these features often provide travel-ways and denning sites.
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. A permanent source of water adds to the attractiveness of a site.
Skunks are most active at night. They live in an area 1 to 1.5 miles in diameter, but use only a small part of this on any given night.
Skunks are slow-moving and docile. Their senses of sight, smell and hearing are poor compared to most predators. Their strong-smelling musk is their best defense. Before discharging it, they usually face their intruder, arch their backs, raise their tails and stamp the ground with their front feet.
Insects are their preferred food and make up most of their diet in the spring and summer. Other common foods include mice, young rabbits, birds and their eggs, corn, fruit and berries.
Skunks are susceptible to diseases like rabies, canine distemper and leptospirosis. Until recently, their numbers went through boom and bust cycles linked to rabies outbreaks. The last epidemic occurred in the early 1980s. Their numbers have remained low but stable since that time.
The raccoon has a black mask on its face and a ringed tail. The raccoon is 2' to 3' long and is 10 to 30 pounds with a grey and black coat. The raccoon, like the skunk, is a nocturnal animal. It has five toes on both front and hind legs, and leaves a track that resembles a small human handprint.
Raccoons eat both plants and meat. They breed mainly in February and March. Their gestation period lasts for 63 days. The average litter size is 3-5 babies. The males generally occupy areas of 3-20 miles, while the adult females stay in areas of 1-6 miles. The male raccoon tend to be territorial. The baby raccoons stay with their mother/father for a period of one year. They will then separate and become independent.
Raccoons prefer to dwell in wooded areas near water. They live in hollow trees, ground burrows, brush piles, muskrat houses, barns, abandoned houses, dense clumps of cattails, haystacks, and rock crevices. However, with such real estate development the raccoon is forced to look for new structures to live in. For instance, it is not uncommon to see a raccoon utilize someone's attic crawlspace or fireplace instead of other natural possibilities.
Although raccoons are not aggressive with humans they will raid garbage cans, break through roofs and dig through gardens. The damage from raccoons is extensive but is preventable. Garbage should be stored in metal or tough plastic containers with tight fitting lids. The chimney should be blocked off with a metal cap and hardware cloth to prevent raccoon from entering the fireplace. Raccoons are very good climbers, so trim back the overhanging trees around the residence to prohibit them from gaining access to the roof.
The number of rabid bats is growing in the suburban Cook County region. The Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) is warning residents to always avoid contact with bats.
People should assume that bats found in the home may be carriers of rabies. Great care should be taken to avoid any direct contact. If the animal is not laboratory tested, post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) may need to be administered to the persons in the home. If laboratory testing on the bat is negative for rabies, no vaccine will need to be given.
Parents should teach children to never touch a bat that is lying on the ground. The bat may not be dead, just ill, and could bite.
Pet owners should be on the alert for bats near their homes, because pets that spend time outdoors can easily come into contact with these animals. Rabies can be avoided in pets by vaccination, which is why a rabies vaccination is required for dogs, cats and ferrets.
Rabies can be spread by the bite or scratch of an infected bat or if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, comes in contact with one’s nose, mouth, an open wound, or gets directly into the eyes.
Area residents have been reporting an increase in number of coyote sightings in Buffalo Grove. An increase in sightings can be due in part to weather-related conditions as well as area development, which cause the coyotes to seek alternative sources of food and water.
Naturalists believe that during drought conditions, the coyotes are forced to search out alternative food sources. Increased rains may reduce this need. Food placed in your yard for other wildlife, such as birds and squirrels, also attracts coyotes. The coyotes are seeking the small animals as a food source. You may wish to discontinue feeding wildlife to avoid attracting the coyotes.
Please secure any refuse containers that are outside and avoid placing food outside for pets. Coyotes are intelligent animals and are very difficult to trap. Therefore, it is hard for us to just trap and relocate them. Trapping requires a state license and is highly regulated. Also, the traps are dangerous, especially for children and pets.