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Urban Coyote Numbers Appear ‘Thriving’, Edgewater’s Most Recent Pack Relocated

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Photo: Urban Coyote Project

Back in May 2013, Alderman Harry Osterman put out a bulletin warning the neighborhood near Berger Park about the presence of Edgewater’s resident coyote. The animal was regularly seen on the lakefront at both Berger and the Loyola campus.

Since that time, there were many sightings of the coyote caught on cell phone images and video. This prompted locals to start inquiring about not only their safety, but also the safety of this wild animal that was starting to roam further inland.

The female coyote made the lakefront area around Berger Park her home. The animal would make regular visits to the park, but she always kept her distance from humans. Ashley Clark, president of the Berger Park Advisory Council, spoke about residents’ nervousness, saying,”Berger is a dog-friendly park and some owners became concerned for the safety of not only their dogs (especially small dogs) but themselves because the coyote started becoming a little more bold and getting closer to the people in the park.”

In order to educate both themselves and the community, Berger Park reached out to Urban Coyote Project in 2014 to do a presentation for the park’s first Earth Month celebration.

During that presentation, we learned quite a bit about the coyotes, where they live in Chicago, their behavior and how we should respond to their presence,” said Clark. “After the presentation, many in the community became much less afraid of the idea of a coyote living nearby, and most people were fascinated by the life that coyotes can live in an urban area.”

Since then, the female coyote and her pack around Berger Park have been relocated to a location with more space. Ashley Wurth of the Urban Coyote Project and Doctoral Fellow of Ohio State University’s School of Environment and Natural Resources says there are approximately 2,000 coyotes living across the Chicago metropolitan area.

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Photo: Coyote 582 by Karen Voght

Wurth, who will be doing another coyote presentation at Berger Park this Thursday, April 14, says there are probably a couple different packs in distinct areas surrounding Edgewater. She said,”As coyotes appear here to stay and inhabit areas near and around people, there is a need to understand how coyotes work so that we can successfully co-exist. Our goal is not to influence people to like or dislike coyotes, but rather to inform people about coyote ecology and behaviors. Coyotes are monitored to understand how they are able to live in urban areas and how they interact with other coyotes, species, and people.”

An area as small as Edgewater usually has just one pack of coyotes, which can contain around 2-6 individuals depending on the season, with higher numbers when pups are still young and traveling with their parents.

Though coyotes usually prefer to live in more natural environments and avoid highly developed areas, they can be found all across the landscape, traveling along railroad lines, and tend to be active more at night.

Because of coyotes’ natural fear and wariness of humans, they rarely approach people, and there have been no reports in the last 25 years of a coyote attack in the Chicago metropolitan area. The biggest conflict between humans and coyotes are coyotes’ occasional attacks on pets.

Coyotes appear to be thriving in urban areas as most animals maintain healthy body conditions and successfully reproduce,” Wurth said. “It is important to maintain this relationship by not feeding coyotes and by not allowing the animals to become too comfortable around people. If a person comes into close contact with a coyote, the best thing to do is to haze the animal by making loud noise and large movements.”

 

Berger Park Earth Week Events

Urban Coyote Project presentation on Thursday, April 14, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Annual Clean and Green day in the Park on Saturday, April 16 starting at 8:30 a.m.

Sustainability Open House on Earth Day, April 22, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

 


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