A DNA test will be used to prove if a coyote captured on Chicago’s North Side is the same animal that attacked a 6-year-old boy.
The coyote will be held at a Chicago-area animal rehabilitation center until the tests are completed, said Jenny Schlueter of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC).
Animal control officers searched for coyotes in the Lincoln Park neighborhood following the alleged coyote attack, as well as downtown where a coyote was spotted and a man also reported he was bitten.
The animal was captured after being chased by Chicago police and animal control officers for several blocks. It was shot with a tranquilizer dart and taken in an animal control van to the animal rehabilitation center. Another coyote spotted in the same part of the city on the same night eluded capture.
In the majority of cases when people believe they or their pets have been bitten by coyotes it turns out to have been attacks by dogs. However, in this case, Chicago officials have spoken to witnesses and remain confident that the animal that attacked the boy was indeed a coyote. If this is proved by the DNA test, it will be the first confirmed coyote attack on a human in Illinois, according to a wildlife biologist with the Urban Coyote Research Project.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters at a news conference that she has been impressed with the response after the attack on the boy.
“We were able to quickly identify the location of the coyote, get him into custody without doing further harm”, she said.
She tried to calm coyote-attack fears by stressing that the animals pose little risk to people. Attacks on humans have been extremely rare in the decades they have lived in the city and typically the animals are so afraid of people that their first instinct is to run away.
“They really thrive in cities by avoiding us, by moving around and eating rats and rabbits and squirrels and not getting in the face of any humans”, said Seth Magle, Director of the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute. “We know that we live around a large number of coyotes, and almost all of them are never going to create any problems or hazards for anyone.”
However, the weather could be a contributing factor.
“It’s also the dead of winter, and some of these animals may just be in a desperate situation, where they’re really trying to find food”, he said.
Kelley Gandurski, Executive Director of CACC, said that the captured coyote would eventually be relocated outside the city. The DNA test is expected to take weeks to complete.
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