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Deer In Your Yard? Skunk In Your House? When To Call Chicago Animal Control

By Patty Wetli | June 8, 2016 5:44am | Updated on June 10, 2016 11:46am
 A pair of deer roaming the yards of North Center prompted calls to Animal Care and Control.
A pair of deer roaming the yards of North Center prompted calls to Animal Care and Control.
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Tracy Stein

NORTH CENTER — North Center neighbors awoke Monday to a pair of deer roaming their yards, a common enough occurrence in areas along the river and parks, but not so much in this particular neck of the non-woods near Irving Park Road and Damen Avenue.

The sighting was rare enough to prompt several calls to Animal Care and Control.

Hours went by without a response, and residents grew increasingly jittery. What if the deer bolted onto Irving Park?

That's when a tipster reached out to DNAinfo.

"No one is helping and it’s been quite a while," the tipster emailed.

It would be easy here to insert a cynical joke about Animal Couldn't Care Less, but guess what — the department was doing its job by not taking action.

The Commission on Animal Care and Control receives more than 70,000 calls for service each year, ranging from animal bites to animal abuse.

Here's when to dial 311:

• When it comes to urban wildlife — e.g., deer, coyote and foxes — Animal Care and Control only responds when the animal is injured or poses a threat to the public, according to Ivan Capifali, the commission's deputy director.

Deer grazing on grass? Not a threat. Trampling flower beds? Not a threat. Nosing through trash bins? Not a threat.

Running amok in traffic? OK, that's a problem.

The commission partners with organizations like Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation to coordinate its rescue of an injured animal.

• Nuisance wildlife — e.g., raccoons, possums, skunks and squirrels — merit a response when they wander inside a home.

In those instances, Animal Care and Control will work with the resident to remove the uninvited guest, Capifali said via email.

For both urban and nuisance wildlife, the commission follows guidelines established by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, he said.

Note: Under the Illinois Wildlife Code, it is illegal for homeowners to remove nuisance deer from their property.

If wildlife have become bothersome around your home, the University of Illinois Extension has a raft of preventative solutions including reducing food sources (that means cleaning scraps off your barbecue grill) and eliminating shelter options such as dead trees.

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