Coyote rescued from Lake Michigan

December 17, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The lucky coyote even tried to swim ashore before she was finally rescued.

Rescuers have named the 40-pound animal "Holly" in celebration of the holiday season.

It's not known how many lives a coyote is supposed to have, but Holly clearly has more than one. She's resting comfortably now at an animal shelter -- a far cry from the grim situation she faced mid-morning Friday.

The frightened and beleaguered animal found itself stranded on an ice slab, not more than 5-feet wide, carried away from the shore at Fullerton and into the middle of Lake Michigan.

Chicago firefighters responded to a 9-1-1 call at 9:30 a.m. and decided to try and rescue the animal, later named Holly, because the city's animal rescue staff were quickly on the scene -- and took control.

"The firefighting unit does not care of wild animals because we don't have the training or the expertise. There was a quick response by the department of animal control so we were able to put one of their workers on our fireboat," said Chief Mike Fox, Chicago Fire Department.

CFD Engine 58 picked up Animal Control Officer Miguel Hernandez at Belmont Harbor and plowed out to Holly.

In the interim, 2.5-foot-long Holly had tried to swim to shore and spent at least 20 minutes in the water.

Somehow she managed to scramble back on to some ice, barely enough to hold her completely out of the water.

Within minutes, the animal control officer, while being held by firefighters, managed to slip a rescue cord around the animal. And the group pulled her to safety.

"I would like to commend the fire department, and without those guys, I would haven't had a shot at her," said Hernandez.

"We hauled her up into the boat. She was pretty well frozen, not giving us any resistance. I think she was happy to see us. Got some blankets on her, warmed her up, brought her back into shore," said Jeff Weber, Chicago firefighter.

Holly was taken to the city's animal shelter on the Southwest Side. She looks a lot better in a cage than she did on the ice.

"We had patrol and an officer and we didn't spend extra money saving this animal, and just like a dog or cat, we should treat all animals with as much care and respect we can," said Cherie Travis, Chicago Animal Care and Control.

A human in that water would only last 10-15 minutes. In total, Holly was out on the water -- ice floe and swimming -- for two hours.

A fire department diver said she probably was sniffing around for catfish at the water's edge when the ice she was standing on broke away.

Holly has reportedly been taken to a wildlife sanctuary in the suburbs.

Urban coyotes are not uncommon in Chicago. Most recently, a coyote was caught on camera running down State Street in Chicago's Loop on November 15, 2010. In March 2010, a coyote was seen in Grant Park. But the most memorable sighting was in 2007 when a coyote walked into a Loop restaurant and jumped in the cooler with the drinks. It was tagged and set free days later.

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