Coyotes spotted at Wrigley Field in Chicago (video)

When I lived in the US, I spent most of my time in the northeast and never once saw a coyote there.  (Though John tells me there are a good number of coyotes out in the Chicago suburbs for sure.)

When I left back in the 1990′s, I recall hearing about brown bear populations increasing rapidly and getting closer to cities. Even then, I never remembered hearing about bears walking through Independence Mall or Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

While attending the SXSW conference earlier this year, I stayed with friends outside of Austin and their property backed onto a green area. The coyotes would walk up to the backyard fence and taunt the dog, probably hoping to get an easy meal. One of their cats had mysteriously disappeared a few years earlier – they later discovered bits of fur in the bushes not far from the fence.

Neighbors also talked about coyotes walking away with dogs and cats, and while there, I saw a few coyotes on a drive through the neighborhood one night. For me – one who loves animals – it was impressive and fun to see them walking along their evening path around the neighborhood. Yes, there are risks for small animals, though I hope the city doesn’t overreact and kill them off like they’re doing in some western states.

Maybe people need to be a little more cautious with their pets, but nature rebounding is not a reason to panic. If Chicago is like other big cities, gun violence is probably a lot more of an issue than a handful of coyotes wandering the streets.

UPDATE: Some of the readers noted additional stories that say the coyotes were let loose in Chicago on purpose, to help eat rats and mice. Huh.

FURTHER UPDATE: A cousin of John’s just had her small dog eaten by a coyote in the Chicago suburbs, it was in her backyard, safely she thought.  There have been other reports in the news recently about coyotes killing dogs in the Chicago are.  This little experiment doesn’t sound like it’s working very well.

There’s more from NPR – as noted above, apparently the coyotes are supposed to be there (unless they’re eating John’s cousin’s dog):

While they are masters of discretion, every so often a coyote will break the rules and make contact with humans. The most famous encounter happened in 2007 when an otherwise calm coyote walked into a Quizno’s sandwich shop in downtown Chicago, and apparently confused (or hot), hopped into a refrigerated case and sat quietly in the fruit juice section.

“It wasn’t aggressive at all,” restaurant manager Bina Patel told the Chicago Tribune. “It was just looking around.” Police came and moved that coyote to someplace safer. Probably a park.

They have a picture of the coyote in the juice fridge.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • rmthunter

    In my back yard on Chicago’s North Side I can sit in the early morning and be almost guaranteed of seeing a raccoon and/or opossum — no coyotes, though. At least, not yet. Interestingly enough, in the past 8 years I’ve seen exactly one rat — half-grown and absolutely terrified.

  • Paul the Fossil

    That’s correct, coyotes are today far more numerous and widespread across North America than they were a couple of hundred years ago. So are whitetail deer and some other mammals. And others such as bobcats, beaver and river otters are now orders of magnitude more common and widespread than they were a few decades ago. It turns out that suburban landscapes are marvelous habitat for a lot of species; that some species are much more adaptable to urban landscapes than ecologists previously thought; and that the ongoing increase in protected conservation land and trails in the U.S. during the last couple of decades has helped a lot of mammals and some bird species shift and adapt.

    Here is a summary of the latest hard science about coyotes in urban areas, I attended a presentation on this data just a few days ago, very interesting stuff. One thing not mentioned in this article is that the data shows that urban coyotes have longer lifespans and _much_ higher pup-survival rates than do rural coyotes. (And as a side note the urban legend about coyotes having been deliberately introduced in the Chicago area was described by the presenting scientist as “hilarious”.):
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121005100909.htm

  • rmthunter

    It’s actually just the opposite for coyotes and other opportunists — they readily expand their ranges into new habitats because they are supremely adaptable. Cities and suburban areas provide ready sources of food and shelter, ergo, here they come.

    Sort of like people.

  • mondo dentro

    Sorry to be a buzz kill, but this isn’t cute. It’s a symptom of habitat destruction. These poor animals are flushed out of their safe domains of habitation, and forced to enter into the dangerous world of humans to be demonized and ultimately killed.

  • Loona_c

    Inner city Houston too. I live “inside the Loop” and our neighborhood has just been alerted about coyote sitings. Probably traveling the paths of the high tension wires and bayous from more rural areas.

  • milli2

    Sign of the apocalypse?

  • rmthunter

    I volunteered with a group that was restoring a nature reserve at Addison and the Lake a few years ago — it’s a bird sanctuary, fenced, as I was told, the keep the coyotes out.

    Coyotes (and black bears) are omnivorous and pretty opportunistic, so it’s no surprise that they’re making incursions into suburban areas and even cities — easy pickings.

  • Indigo

    Brown bears wander in an out of suburban Orlando and neighboring towns regularly, foraging for open garbage cans. Alligators frequent most bodies of water but are not all that much of a threat although, in rural areas it’s best to be cautious, especially during mating season when the bull alligators put on their throat singing concerts. They sound like giant bull frogs, verbratto extras for a Jurassic Park remake.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Down here in New Mexico, coyotes are commonplace. In fact, the last few weeks, a pack of them has been howling outside our house. We figure it’s probably mating season. Seeing them isn’t unusual.

    We also have bobcats and the occasional cougar and black bear in the general area, and wild horses.

    Whole different world out this way.

  • WarrenHart

    A lot of the domestic cats and small dogs that go missing are killed and eaten by coyotes, and even a fenced in yard is no barrier – they can climb very well. They’ve been spotted in every county in the United States and Domestic cats made up 30% of the local coyote diet according to one study from Arizona. Keep your pet cats inside unless you’re with them and never feed any pets outside, unless you take their feeding bowls up as soon as they’ve finished eating. Feeding cats outside can attract coyote, fox and larger dogs all of which kill domestic cats regularly,

  • JamesR

    What a cool video thanks!

    Coyotes have migrated from the West / Southwest North, over the Great Lakes, bred with wolves, and come South into the Northeast and Southeast. Sounds like a bad geography tongue twister, but they did migrate, as was posited they would in the ’70s, really did breed with wolves, and are now a larger hybrid perfectly adapted for the marginal habitat we have made for them. Bad for our cats and dogs and sheep and chickens but probably good for our deer… http://www.easterncoyoteresearch.com/downloads/GeneticsOfEasternCoywolfFinalInPrint.pdf

    I don’t know the origin of the Coyotes in Illinois but are probably related to the ones North of the Great Lakes, and are probably hybrids too. They can hybridize with dogs but in the North that changes when they whelp, the dog hybrids, when they are created and then when they reproduce, deliver earlier and it’s not timed right for Winter, they’re born too early and they die. Basically. Plus Coyotes tend to be monogamous! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/30/coyotes-monogamous-study-faithful-cheating-urban_n_1923649.html

    I noticed Coyotes in DC in Rock Creek Park ten years ago or so. A few years later they made the Washington Post. People still don’t know they’re there! But they especially love hanging out near the golf course near Oregon Ave and Military road, if you want an easy place to see some late at night – the last one(s) I saw there looked just like small wolves. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-buzz/2011/03/coyotes_are_here_to_stay_in_dc.html (I can’t find the Post article from 2004)

    Now living in North Carolina I can hear them howl at times, especially like tonight at the moon. No kidding. They eat cats, small dogs, and more annoyingly to farmers poultry and sheep and goats. This is not far from urban areas – they are everywhere. And the more they’re hunted the more they learn. They hunt in packs, like wolves, rather than the lone Western or Southwestern ones who are solitary or paired. http://www.easterncoyoteresearch.com/PublicationsPage/

    They apparently appeared here 6 to 8 years ago, the ecosystem is still adjusting to them. They do seem to have a beneficial influence on the deer, as in there are less deer, LOL, and if they’re shot they’re simply replaced by new coyotes… They’re here to stay. Maybe roadrunners are next?

  • Phil

    My sister (near Genoa, IL) has lost several chickens and a few barn cats to them. In Sept. a friend and I were driving down Archer near Willow Springs at about 5 in the afternoon and spotted one just walking along the side of the road, quite unconcerned about the traffic, nearby picnickers, etc. They have become ubiquitous in the Chicago area.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Oh wow. Just added that to the story, how interesting. Reassures me about the coyotes in my small town, we were really worried about them, they haven’t educated anyone that they’re not athreat.

  • mirror

    Erh, Chris, rather….

  • mirror

    Hey John, consider doing an update with Dru2′s links below about the coyotes being in Chicago with permission. Pretty cool

  • Drew2u
  • bkmn

    Are you sure they weren’t cougars of the over 50, divorced, and highly sexed varieties?

  • Phil

    Those are Sox fans. They got confused and thought they were at Comiskey or whatever it’s called these days. Not the brightest bulbs on the chandelier.

  • drdick52

    Hey now! I used live up by Wrigley. I remember about 15 years ago, shortly before I left Chicago, that there was a pair of coyotes running around north Michigan Avenue.

  • David Valento

    I know the wild coyote population is growing in suburban Chicago, but coyotes in Chicago were let loose on purpose by an animal control group of that city (they were tagged/collared, I’m surprised the NBC article failed to mention any of this). They’ve been wandering the streets eating rats for a few years now (though they are fairly elusive, so it’s cool a video was grabbed here).

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