Wildlife Expert: Coyotes Avoid Humans, Don't Pose Threat

Two people reportedly were bitten by one of the animals this week.

Jim Gudas
January 09, 2020 - 8:59 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A wildlife expert at the Lincoln Park Zoo says he hopes reported attacks by coyotes against humans in Chicago don’t lead to a backlash against the animals.

Seth Magle, director of the zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute, says researchers believe there are between 3,000 and 4,000 coyotes in Cook County.

In the vast majority of cases, he said, coyotes will do everything they can to avoid contact with people. He adds there are very rare instances when they can become aggressive.

But this is usually due to people feeding coyotes, making them more likely to become aggressive when they encounter people who don't give them food, he said.

Other factors include illness. Coyotes that are sick, especially with neurological diseases, can become aggressive, Magle said. So, too, can injured coyotes, he adds.

Coyotes play a key role in Chicago’s ecology, eating rats, mice and rabbits, he said. Magle hopes people won’t let the recent attacks taint their opinions about sharing our communities with them.

Two people, including a 6-year-old boy, reportedly were bitten by a coyote or coyotes on Wednesday.