Authorities on the hunt for coyotes in downtown Chicago after two reported attacks caught one Thursday night on the city's North Side but a second eluded capture. The reported attacks come amid an increase in coyote sightings in the nation's third-largest city.
One sighting briefly prompted the lockdown of two schools Thursday in the ritzy Lincoln Park neighborhood.
In one of the attacks, passersby said they had to pull a wild canine off of a 6-year-old boy who was bitten in the head. Neither the boy nor a man who showed up at a hospital with what he said was a coyote bite suffered life-threatening injuries.
Officials were confident the animal that attacked the boy was a coyote, based on witness interviews, Kelley Gandurski, executive director of the Chicago Animal Care and Control, told reporters.
The 6 year old was attacked Wednesday while outside the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park. Gandurski said the animal may have been surprised by the boy as the child ran along a path.
Two DePaul University track team members were running nearby when the coyote attacked the boy and they helped kick the animal away, according to CBS Chicago.
Later Wednesday, a man walked into the emergency room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital with a scratch on his behind, police said. He told police a coyote had bitten him, but Gandurski couldn't confirm his account because her staff hadn't interviewed him yet.
The animal captured on the city's North Side was chased by police and animal control officials over several blocks and finally caught near an intersection just after 10 p.m. Thursday, according to WMAQ-TV. Video showed the animal being loaded into an Animal Care and Control van after it was apparently shot with a tranquilizer.
The second animal was still on the loose late Thursday night, CBS Chicago said.
It wasn't immediately clear if either animal was connected to either of the reported attacks.
While coyotes don't usually bite humans, there have been confirmed minor attacks in other U.S. cities, said Stan Gehrt, a wildlife ecology professor at Ohio State University.
Gandurski said reports of coyote sightings in the city have remained fairly consistent in recent years, but the recent increase may be because of cold weather and a lack of food.
Chicago Animal Care and Control urged residents to not leave pets unattended outside and to secure their garbage.
Gandurski said city and county animal control workers, as well as police and other agencies are taking part in the search for the coyote that attacked the boy. If captured, the animal will likely be relocated outside the city, she said.
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