DOWNTOWN — A coyote who was captured after biting a 6-year-old boy in Lincoln Park won’t be euthanized, officials said Tuesday.
The coyote was caught and taken in by Chicago Animal Care and Control on Jan. 9, a day after biting the boy in his face in Lincoln Park. Officials said Sunday that DNA testing confirmed the captured coyote was the one who bit the boy and said the animal possibly became aggressive after someone shot him with a BB gun.
Some Chicagoans had been worried the coyote would be euthanized, but Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation — which is caring for the animal — said that won’t be the case.
Instead, the coyote has been named Mercy. He won’t be released back into the wild since DNA evidence shows he likely bit the boy, but he will be permanently placed in an “educational setting with specifics yet to be determined,” according to a Facebook post.
“Mercy is not the first coyote we have treated that was harmed by humans,” the organization wrote. “We hope that Mercy, as an educational ambassador, will serve as a reminder regarding the need for peaceful coexistence.”
Mercy was “extremely frightened” when admitted to the rehabilitation center and showed “definite signs of stress and trauma,” but he has not been aggressive since being captured.
An evaluation showed Mercy was recently shot by someone with a BB gun, and the BB went through the coyote’s neck and lodged “deep inside” his chest, according to the rehabilitation center.
“We cannot definitively determine the extent to which this recent injury may have contributed to the coyote’s behavior at the time of the incident but suspect that it was a contribution factor,” the rehabilitation center wrote.
Hundreds of people commented on the rehabilitation center’s post to thank its employees for rescuing the coyote.
“Thank you for saving this beautiful animal,” one person wrote.
Coyotes have lived amongst Chicagoans for years, but attacks are extremely rare. Officials said the attack on the 6-year-old was likely the first reported coyote bite of a human in more than a decade in Cook County.
Coyotes typically avoid humans “at all costs,” Stan Gehrt of Ohio State University and the local Urban Coyote Research program previously said.
Human behavior is the top reason for coyote attacks — whether that is from chasing (or, as is possible in this case, shooting) the animals or feeding them, according to the Humane Society.
The coyote — who became recognizable quickly because of his distinctive limp — was caught after people reported seeing an injured coyote on the North Side on Jan. 6.
Then on Jan. 8, a 6-year-old boy was walking near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum with his nanny when he went up a hill. He apparently surprised the coyote, who bit him.
The nanny and two passersby helped the boy, who was hospitalized.
Later that day, a 32-year-old man said he was bitten by a coyote in Steeterville. Officials said that incident was not a confirmed coyote bite.
A dog was also reportedly bitten by a coyote and had to be rescued by its owner and passersby, and a waterlogged coyote was rescued from Monroe Harbor the same week.
The day after the boy was bitten, someone reported seeing a coyote at Oz Park, which sent Lincoln Park High School into a temporary lockdown.
The coyote has not shown signs of rabies, but he will receive further testing to ensure he does not have any diseases or viruses.
“Coyotes are common throughout the Chicagoland area and protected under the Illinois Wildlife Code. Residents should always take caution if they encounter a coyote and notify [Animal Control] by calling 311,” an Animal Control spokesman said. “It remains extremely rare for a coyote to approach or bite a person.”
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