Video emerged showing Chicago police chasing a coyote through the streets after two reported attacks on humans, the first in decades. You can watch several videos of the chase, and also see other videos of Chicago coyotes throughout this story.
Coyotes are generally afraid of people, and attacks on human beings are very rare, according to animal control officials. But there’s at least one aggressive coyote around that police were trying to catch; first, a small boy was bitten in the head at Lincoln Park. Then, a man reported that a coyote bit him in the butt (it’s not clear whether it’s the same animal.) There has been a spate of coyote sightings in Chicago, and calls about them are up (but officials aren’t sure whether that’s just because of all the media hype.)
Here’s the video of Chicago police chasing a coyote through the streets. They eventually caught it. It’s not clear whether it’s the same coyote that attacked the child and man.
Here’s another view:
Here’s what you need to know:
Authorities Say That Coyotes Are Usually Not Dangerous to Humans
Before the recent attacks, Illinois had seen no coyote attacks on humans for the last 30 years, according to the Chicago Animal Care and Control’s coexistence plan. In the news conference, CACC officials said it had been at least 10 years since a Chicago coyote attacked a person.
The plan says that coyotes are “protected as a furbearer” in Illinois, which means that it takes a permit to remove a coyote. If they attack people, the game changes, and the coyotes are tracked down, tranquilized, and released elsewhere.
“They are part of our ecosystem here in Chicago. They have lived among us for generations… Generally they do not want any contact with people,” Chicago Animal Care and Control executive director Kelly Gandurski said in the press conference. “Any attack is very, very rare…”
She added, “We have no evidence that there’s a larger coyote population. We looked at our calls for the same time period over the last three years. There’s a slight uptick in calls and sightings.” But she said it’s not clear whether that’s due to media reports driving calls. She said coyotes are usually fearful of humans.
“Coyote are becoming increasingly common in cities. Even in densely populated areas, coyotes maintain an avoidance of humans and potential for human-coyote interaction is low,” Chicago Animal Care and Control said in a statement. CACC provides tips for avoiding problems with coyotes, which you can read later in this story.
You can read Chicago’s coyote management and coexistence plane here. The plan says that coyotes are “adapting especially well to densely populated urban spaces.” One expert estimated that there were about 2,000 coyotes in Chicago in 2014, but in the press conference officials said they couldn’t give a number now. Researchers believe that the coyote population will continue to grow in Chicago because coyotes “have no existing predators in urban spaces and adapt around human populations.”
Coyote attacks on humans are rare nationwide as well. In recent years, there were “150 documented attacks in North America in entirety,” the report says, but pets are in greater peril. Attacks on pets in the Chicago area spiked dramatically from 1990 to 2005, according to the Urban Coyote Research Project. January was the most likely month for coyotes to attack dogs. “Between 1990 and 2004, the number of attacks on pets in the Chicago metropolitan area increased from 0-2 attacks per year to 6-14 reported attacks per year,” the project found in one study. That project is also called The Cook County Coyote Project and it’s a “comprehensive study of coyotes in Chicago metropolitan areas” that launched in 2000. You can see its research reports here.
The Two Recent Attacks Injured the Man & Boy
In the first attack, a 6 year old boy was bitten by a coyote outside the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in the Lincoln Park area. Two DePaul students came to the boy’s aid, according to NBC Chicago, which added that a caregiver with the boy was trying to get the coyote off him.
Shortly before the boy was bitten, a man took a video of a limping coyote not far from the museum, but it’s not clear whether it’s the same one. Chicago police were giving chase.
Chicago Animal Care and Control executive director Kelly Gandurski said in a news conference that coyotes are protected by Illinois state law. Thus, CACC doesn’t remove coyotes because of sightings alone, but when a coyote attacks a person, that’s different.
“Our team has been out canvassing the area for any sightings,” she said. “There were also reports of small dogs being attacked as well.” It’s not clear whether the limping coyote was the one attacking dogs, she said. She said the family didn’t report the coyote that attacked the boy as having a limp.
The child was “reportedly attacked by a coyote while walking on the walking path.” His caretaker and two good Samaritans “got the coyote off the child” and the animal ran away, she said. There was another sighting, and Chicago police were also out canvassing the area.
According to CNN, later that same night, a 32-year-old man “said a coyote bit his buttocks while he was walking near Northwestern Hospital.”
The man is in good condition at the hospital; he was attacked about 2.6 miles away from the Lincoln Park incident, but it’s not clear whether the same coyote was involved, CNN reports.
However, Gandurski said in the press conference that authorities had not been able to confirm that it was actually a coyote bite.