Coyotes are usually nocturnal animals that shy away from people, which is why Wednesday's sighting seem unusual for some, but both Chicago and Cook County say this is the time of year for coyote sightings, and we may be seeing more of them through the end of March.
Witnesses in Hyde Park say two coyotes stayed together during an overnight tour of the Midway Plaisance neighborhood, starting at Washington Park, going through Jackson Park, and then, taking in the U of C campus.
Then two coyotes were sighted around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. The pair spent hours relaxing in Uptown's Clarendon Park.
"They're enjoying the sunny day, chilling in the snow," said Amy Schneider, who was out taking pictures. "Doesn't look like they're nervous. It's nice."
Schneider and her sister, Beth, found the coyotes so interesting they stopped to take pictures, but not before taking their dog home.
"I was coming down the street with my dog," said Beth Schneider. "I have a little cocker spaniel. I saw them running around and getting closer to the edge of the street, and so I turned around and brought her inside."
The coyotes attracted a lot of attention. There is a dog park nearby, at Montrose Beach, making some dog owners and walkers nervous.
Others tried to get a closer look.
"We're keeping our distance," said dogwalker Melissa Barcus. "We're just viewing them from afar. They're beautiful though. They're just hanging out out there. It's not something you see every day."
Recently, there has been an increase in daytime sightings of coyotes. But, officials say, that doesn't mean there are more of them.
"This is their mating season period, so they are going to be coming out," said Animal Control's Dr. Donna Alexander. "They have to come out to mate. We will see more of them."
And, while Animal Control did survey the area Wednesday afternoon, they say the coyotes will not be moved.
"This is part of the wildlife that we live with in our ecosystem," Alexander said. "At this point, unless they are posing a threat, then we don't have a problem with them."
For pet owners concerned with their dogs and cats safety, officials remind people to:
- keep a leash on your dog and your cat indoors,
- don't feed the coyotes,
- and if a coyote does approach, establish your presence.
"You are the biggest opponent to the coyote," said Alexander. "If you are on the other side of a leash with a dog, all you have to do is say, 'Get out of here.' "