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Workshop Offers Neighbors Tips on Wildlife Encounters

By Sandy Fejt, Site Manager of Willowbrook Wildlife Center

In 2005 Willowbrook Wildlife Center hosted its first annual "Urban Wildlife Workshop" for DuPage County municipal workers, police officers, community service officers, public works employees and our own Forest Preserve District’s police officers and rangers. Willowbrook staff routinely have discussions with municipalities and their employees on a variety of wildlife topics, and the center developed this workshop to meet their needs for supplying residents with information on living with wildlife. It became clear that we could use this as an educational opportunity to ensure accurate information was being exchanged among agencies, based on their needs.

Willowbrook staff log every phone call we answer for informational purposes. We review those calls regularly to track trends (hot topics) and record the city or town where they are occurring. Based on this information, types of patients admitted to the center and daily conversations with our admittance visitors, Willowbrook staff identify the workshop’s topics and the appropriate speaker to present the related information based on their knowledge and field expertise. Our speakers have included Willowbrook’s wildlife keepers, naturalists and veterinarian, District ecologists and members from the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois Department of Natural Resources. We’ve covered topics including IDNR law updates, IDPH updates (like West Nile virus and lyme disease), safe animal capture and handling, wildlife diseases in local areas and nuisance wildlife like coyotes, geese, skunks, snakes and insects. We’ve also presented information from our various partnerships with Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, Chicago Peregrine Program and Lincoln Park Zoo.

We also encourage our workshop attendees to contact us to have our trained animal care staff safely capture or handle wildlife. 

We'll be hosting our annual "Urban Wildlife Workshop" on Feb. 24 at Mayslake Peabody Estate.

Municipalities often seek to provide residents information about the coyote, a trending topic of this year's workshop.  

Forest Preserve District ecologist Dan Thompson talks about the behaviors of coyotes in the suburbs and practices for pet owners to keep pets safe.
Reptiles, like this fox snake, can often show up in homeowners' backyards neighboring DuPage forest preserves or other natural areas.
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