River Forest is a beautiful community with abundant greenery and trees. Most of the time we don't mind sharing our Village with the urban wildlife who also call River Forest home. But every once in awhile, the needs of wildlife and people can intersect and present challenges. Fortunately, most of them are easily resolved.

Please see the list below for information on the most frequently asked questions about urban wildlife. If you have a suggestion for a topic that is not covered below, please contact Dawn Haney at dhaney@vrf.us

Coyote Information

From time to time, the Village receives reports from residents of coyote sightings. Residents are cautioned that coyotes are generally not dangerous to humans, but they are can be territorial when protecting their young, and should not be approached.

Small pets may be considered prey by coyotes, please do not leave your pets outside unsupervised.

Tips to protect your family and pets from coyotes include:

  • Never feed coyotes- Feeding lures coyotes into neighborhoods
  • Do not leave small pets unattended outside, even in a fenced in yard
  • Keep dogs on a short leash while walking outside
  • Yell, clap hands or blow a whistle and try to make yourself look larger if a coyote approaches
  • Do not allow a coyote to get in between you and your pet or child

Coyote Information from the Cook County Department of Animal Control

Avoid Conflicts with Coyotes from Urban Coyote Research - Cook County


Some areas of the Village are reporting an increase in the number of skunk sightings. The Village recommends reviewing the information/tips below (courtesy of the University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR):

Many mammals (including skunks) are legally protected by the Illinois Wildlife Code. The Directory of Illinois Wildlife is an excellent resource with information on preventing & solving issues with urban wildlife.


Tips to make your residence less desirable to skunks and other wildlife:

  • Secure garbage cans/lids tightly and make sure dumpster lids are closed especially at night
  • Remove bird feeders from property
  • Never leave pet food outside overnight
  • Remove brush and/or wood piles
  • Seal any and all openings around the foundation of your home
  • Use window well covers to prevent skunks from falling into window wells - you can also use wire mesh
  • Consider fencing to keep skunks off property or at least away from small areas like gardens
  • Devices meant to scare wildlife such as strobe lights are generally not very effective - but may do the trick in some situations

Currently, there are no registered repellents for skunks.


Skunks can only be legally removed by a licensed nuisance wildlife control operator. Or, if you prefer to attempt to remove the skunk yourself (which is generally not recommended), you must contact an Illinois Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist in order to obtain an animal removal permit and instructions on how to properly and safely trap and remove the animal.

Skunks & Rabies

While skunks are generally not dangerous if undisturbed, they can be carriers of rabies (although this is rare - most cases of rabies in the U.S. come from bats). If you observe a skunk that seems to have lost the fear of people, has uncoordinated movements or seizures, call the Cook County Animal Control office at (708) 974-6140 to request removal of the skunk, followed by a call to the Cook County Department of Public Health at (708) 633-4000.

Professional Services

The University of Illinois offers an extension for "Living with Wildlife." View the Professional Services Resource Page to find more resources.

If your pet is sprayed

Several sources are reporting the following "recipe" to be the most effective to remove skunk spray from pets:

Mix 1-quart Hydrogen Peroxide, 1/4 baking soda and one teaspoon of liquid soap and apply to the affected pet. Leave on for five minutes. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

High numbers of skunks

Daily Southtown published an article on the high number of skunks being reported in 2015.

According to the Humane Society of the United States,

Occasional skunk sightings in a neighborhood are not a cause for alarm. Because skunks are generally easy-going, they will not intentionally bother people. In fact, skunks may benefit humans by eating many insects and rodents we regard as pests. The nocturnal habits of skunks, their unaggressive nature , and the generally beneficial role they play in nature by consuming insects and rodents are all good reasons to leave them alone until they have moved on their own accord (which they readily do) or can safely be harassed away from an area where they are not wanted.

Removal of deceased animals

If a large animal such as a deer, is impeding traffic on the roadway, please call 9-1-1.

If smaller animals such as squirrels, raccoons, possums, etc are found on Village streets or alleys, please either call Village Hall at (708) 366-8500 during normal business hours (Mondays 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, Tuesday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm) and request that staff initiate a service request to have it removed, or, submit a service request online.