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Neighbors on Chicago's North Side alarmed by encounters with aggressive coyotes

Residents of Chicago neighborhood concerned about aggressive coyotes
Residents of Chicago neighborhood concerned about aggressive coyotes 02:39

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Residents of the North Center neighborhood are on alert, saying coyotes have become more aggressive than usual.

Chicago Animal Care & Control says people feeding the coyotes is likely part of the problem.

Dean Ferenac had a close encounter with a coyote Sunday morning just as he finished walking his dog.

"I haven't seen fangs before on a coyote," Ferenac said, "but her mouth was open, and she was looking to hunt. She was standing no more than 6 feet away from us. 

Upon encountering the aggressive female coyote, Ferenac did what was recommended - and yelled loudly.

"'Go! Get out of here! Go away!'" he said, "and it was loud enough that all my neighbors heard and started texting."

Yet the coyote, Ferenac said, stood her ground.

"They're not taking any cues to leave," he said. "They're not afraid of people, or shouting, or anything like that."

Other neighbors agreed that the coyotes do not seem intimidated by the methods people are taught to use to shoo them away.

"What that says to me is that these coyotes are not acting the way that coyotes are supposed to act in this area," said concerned resident Tran La.

Since last Thursday, neighbors living on Ravenswood Avenue off Irving Park Road have said they have heard the screams of coyotes approaching people with dogs. The latest incident happened Tuesday morning.

"Two coyotes had approached them - aggressively growling at them," said La.

Residents are used to wildlife along train tracks – like the Union Pacific North Metra tracks that run on an elevated trestle between two lanes of Ravenswood Avenue in that area.

"We've had foxes on the street. We've had coyotes walking up and down the train tracks – and never, you know, an incident," said Ferenac.

The aggression could be linked to a den of coyotes in the area with at least four or five cubs. Video captured one young coyote in the brush.

Chicago Animal Care & Control came out, but the coyotes were nowhere to be found.

Since the coyotes have not attacked, there is not much Animal Care & Control can do. This has left neighbors wondering what can be done with the coyotes that are protecting their cubs.

"I think it's going to take someone's pet getting bitten or killed, or maybe a child getting bit," said area resident Dan McDermit.

McDermit wants the coyotes removed from the neighborhood. He said he might follow up with a call to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Chicago Animal Care & Control issued the following statement regarding coyotes in the general area – emphasizing that part of the problem might be people feeding the animals. A spokesman said there was a report of someone feeding the coyotes and the cubs from a car on the east side of Ravenswood Avenue just south of Irving Park Road:

There have been recent reports and sightings of people feeding coyotes in Ravenswood. While these fascinating animals are an important part of our local ecosystem, it's crucial to remember that they are wild and potentially dangerous.

When coyotes become accustomed to getting food from humans, this disrupts their natural feeding patterns. They lose their natural fear of people. Coyotes may approach people or pets in search of handouts, posing a threat to both. This can lead to bold behavior and increase the risk of conflicts. This is a big safety concern.

How to Keep the Community Safe:

  • Never feed coyotes: This includes leaving out food scraps, pet dishes outside, or attracting them with bird feeders.
  • Secure your property: Keep garbage cans tightly sealed and eliminate potential den sites under decks or sheds.
  • Supervise pets: Keep an eye on your furry friends, especially smaller ones, while outdoors. Leash them when necessary.

If you encounter a coyote, make yourself appear large and loud (haze, yell, throw objects). This will usually scare them away.

Please help us keep Ravenswood a safe and healthy place for everyone!

The Animal Care & Control spokesman said the statement was posted in a neighborhood Facebook group.

He added that no traps have been set up for coyotes. However, Animal Care & Control does have a Wildlife Management and Coexistence Plan with the Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute. The plan guides how Animal Care & Control responds to calls about wildlife, from skunks to squirrels and coyotes.

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