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Lincoln Square Coyote Problem Traced To People Feeding Them

By Patty Wetli | February 7, 2017 5:47am | Updated on February 17, 2017 10:16am
 Coyotes in Winnemac Park became aggressive due to people feeding them.
Coyotes in Winnemac Park became aggressive due to people feeding them.
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Flickr/Yellowstone National Park

LINCOLN SQUARE — The first rule of coexisting with coyotes is "don't feed the coyotes."

Repeat: Don't feed the coyotes.

Animal Care and Control was dispatched to Winnemac Park over the weekend and trapped a pair of the animals after 311 received several calls from people who reported being menaced by the critters, said Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), whose office also fielded numerous complaints about the park's aggressive coyotes.

Winnemac Park, 5100 N. Leavitt St., abuts the campuses of Amundsen High School and Chappell Elementary, and is popular with dog walkers.

Upon further investigation, "it was discovered that people were feeding the coyotes and letting their dogs play with them off leash," O'Connor told constituents via email.

"Feeding wild animals is never a good idea because it alters the nature behavior of the animal and its subsequent interaction with others that they come in contact with," O'Connor said.

The coyotes were moved to Flint Creek Wildlife in suburban Barrington.

Flint Creek's "Guide to Living with Coyotes" states that nearly all documented coyote attacks on humans can be traced to people directly or indirectly feeding the creatures.

According to the Cook County Urban Coyote Research Project, "Coyotes that are fed in residential neighborhoods can lose their fear of people and may eventually test humans [and pets] as possible prey."

Estimates place Cook County's coyote population at 1,500 to 2,000, and the animals are found in every city neighborhood, according to Chris Anchor, senior wildlife biologist for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

When it comes to urban wildlife — e.g., deer, coyote and foxes — Animal Care and Control typically only responds when the animal is injured or poses a threat to the public, Ivan Capifali, the commission's deputy director, previously told DNAinfo.

"While relocating these animals is not optimum, Animal Control thought it best given the circumstances," O'Connor said.

RELATED: Coyotes Caught In Lincoln Square, More Could Be On The Loose