Coyote cornered on city's South Side

February 8, 2012 2:58:53 PM PST
Officials say there isn't a surge in the urban coyote population, but Chicagoans may be spotting more of them as they become more aggressive during mating season.

It's not clear if that's what the female coyote was out looking for when she was cornered by Chicago police and animal control officers in a fenced-in area near 72nd and Dobson in the Grand Crossing neighborhood around 9 a.m. Wednesday.

When an animal control officer arrived on the scene, the Chicago Police Department was already present. After the animal eluded officials for about two hours, they caught her in a corner with a control pole.

Coyotes eat rats, mice and other vermin, so cities like Chicago offer a feast. Animal control is holding the coyote and coordinating with Flint Creek Wildlife to return her to the wild.

"February and early March is their breeding season so you will see them around a lot now and they will be a little more aggressive," Dr. Donna Alexander, Cook County Animal Control director, said.

Last week, Janet Miernicki's dachshund was attacked while on the front porch of the family's Palos Hills home.

"That death cry and I looked and at the end of my porch I saw a coyote carry the dog off into the woods," Miernicki said. She chased the coyote carrying the 10-pound dog in its teeth into the woods. She scared the animal, which dropped the dog, Russell. Russell was injured- requiring a dozen staples in his 8 to 10 puncture wounds.

"I think if I wasn't there to pick him up he would have been eaten by the coyote," Miernicki said. Her daughter, Megan, said it's not the first time they've had coyotes near their home.

"Part of it is we are out here in nature, but they're not scared of people. We've had them here and my brother has been out trying to scare them away and they're not scared of people. They're so used to being around people and it's becoming a problem," Megan Miernicki said.

In recent years, public sightings of coyotes in the Loop have only increased their reputations for daringness. But experts say humans hold the key to fighting off these urban adventurers.

"From a dog's standpoint, don't just put them out in the backyard. You be out there with them because anytime you see a coyote you're acting human and that chases the coyote away. Stamp your feet. Wave your hands. Yell and make human noises and the coyote will usually take off," Dr. Alexander said.

The Miernickis and some of their neighbors now walk their dogs armed with baseball bats.

Cook County Coyote Project

The Cook County Coyote Project is a comprehensive ecological study of coyotes in the Chicago metropolitan area, specifically Cook County, Illinois. ABC7's Ron Magers took a look at the program in his report, Urban Coyotes