LINCOLN PARK — A 5-year-old boy and a 32-year-old man were reportedly bitten by coyotes in separate, extremely rare attacks Wednesday on the Near North Side.
A WGN cameraman shot video of an apparently aggressive coyote near the Streeterville site of the second attack, and the coyote walked with a noticeable limp.
It’s not clear if the Streeterville attack involved the same animal as the one that bit the 5-year-old hours earlier in Lincoln Park.
At 4 p.m., the boy was with a nanny near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, when a coyote walked up and bit him several times in his head, said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.
After being attacked, the boy and his nanny took refuge inside a nearby CTA bus shelter before calling 911, Langford said. It was not known if the boy had tried to feed the coyote before being bitten.
Langford, who has worked for the Chicago Fire Department for 20 years, said he cannot recall any calls for coyotes attacking people in his career.
“We’ve had coyote attacks on dogs and we don’t respond to those, but I haven’t seen any where people are involved. I think they are getting more bold,” Langford said. “The experts tell us they will approach children as they become more accustomed to being around people.
“They might not attack a full-grown man but they will attack a child. This child weighed about 50 pounds.”
Langford said the boy was in “pretty good condition” at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. He did not know if the boy would be treated and released or have to stay at the hospital.
Julie Pesch, Lurie’s director of public affairs, said HIPPA laws prevented her from commenting on the case.
Chicago Police officer Jessica Alvarez said the coyote was last seen heading north from the scene.
Later Wednesday night, a 32-year-old man went to Northwestern Hospital and said he’d been walking on the sidewalk in the 700 block of North Fairbanks Court when a coyote came up from behind him and bit him in his buttocks, police said.
The man had a scratch on his buttocks and was in good condition, police said. He was expected to be treated and released.
Steve Stronk, the owner of Steve’s Wildlife Removal in Crete, who possesses a commercial wildlife removal permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said in his 35 years of working with coyotes, he’s never personally dealt with anyone who was bitten by one.
“If the animal’s sick that would make sense, but otherwise, for it to prey on a human is very rare,” Stronk said. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years and this is the first time I’ve heard of a child being bitten. Of course, I don’t know the circumstances. A lot of people feed them, intentionally and unintentionally.
“Whatever you do, if you start seeing coyote activity in your neighborhood, stop feeding them. Pull bird feeders for at least a month because they aren’t here because they like us. They are here because their food, water and shelter are all free. If you do away with them, there’s no reason for them to be here.”
“Coyote attacks on humans are extremely rare considering the range and abundance of coyotes,” according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “A study published in 2007 found 187 reliable reports of attacks on humans, most of which (157) occurred in California, Arizona and Nevada. Many of these incidents occurred where people were feeding coyotes intentionally, causing them to lose their fear of humans.”
The Urban Coyote Research Center lists tips to avoid conflict with coyotes on its website.
Coyotes have been spotted all over the Near North Side in recent days, and one was even rescued from Monroe Harbor on Tuesday.
A toy poodle puppy named Ki Ki was injured when a coyote grabbed her and ran off Monday morning in Old Town, according to CBS 2. Ki Ki’s owner and neighbors chased after the coyote and threw shoes at it until it dropped the dog and took off.
But it wasn’t the first such sighting: In recent days, there have been a number of coyote sightings in Old Town and Lincoln Park, with at least 10 calls coming in over the last week, according to NBC 5.
And at 11:25 a.m. Tuesday, someone reported seeing a coyote in the water near the 100 block of North Lake Shore Drive, police said. Chicago Fire and Animal Care and Control officers went to the harbor to rescue the animal.
A marine unit from the Fire Department rescued the coyote, putting him on a gurney and covering him with blankets because he was cold and “possibly hypothermic,” said Kelley Gandurski, director of Chicago Animal Care and Contorl.
Animal Control workers took the coyote back to the agency’s facility at 2741 S. Western Ave. and are holding him until a wildlife rehabilitation group can come and rescue him, Gandurski said.
Coyotes are nothing new to the city: They’ve always resided among people in Chicago and are predators of rats and mice, among other creatures, Gandurski said.
But if you do spot a coyote, don’t approach him or her, Gandurski said. Coyotes typically avoid and fear humans, but if one does get too close you can usually scare one off by clapping, shouting or making other loud noises, Gandurski said.
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