Police in Chicago’s suburbs are seeing an increase in the number of coyote sightings in recent days, and in Skokie, officials are issuing a new alert and asking residents to be cautious around the animals.
Officials say the coyote was first spotted last week, and traps were laid out for the animal. After heated debate and backlash within the community, the traps have been taken down, and Skokie police are issuing an advisory that residents should take steps to avoid confrontations with the animal.
“There’s been a lot of excitement. Everybody is trying to keep an eye on their yards so everybody’s dogs are safe,” Becky Sambol, who saw the coyote near Skokie’s Devonshire Park, said.
Samobl says that she had to scare a coyote away after it came near one of her neighbors.
“I came out in the middle of the street, and I was yelling ‘you! You gotta get away,” she recalled.
Laura Swartzburgh has also seen the coyote around the neighborhood, spotting it while she was walking her dog.
“I was terrified. Absolutely terrified,” she said. “I had no idea. It was right there, and it was so quiet. It wasn’t running at us or growling. It was just sticking with us.”
There are very strong feelings on both sides of the issue, with some residents calling for the animal to be trapped and relocated. Others say that they hope residents will just leave the coyote alone, concerned that it may have pups in a nearby den.
Under Illinois state law, coyotes are a protected species, and can only be relocated or euthanized if they are aggressive or visibly ill.
The Skokie Police Department says coyotes are generally harmless if people stay away from them, and offered other tips, including making yourself appear larger and to not run away from the animal.
Kimberly Polka says that she hopes people in Skokie can learn to coexist with the animals.
“We’ve been trying to educate people. Trying to ease people’s fears,” she said.