A popular suburban Chicago park has been closed after a string of reported animal attacks.
On Wednesday signs were up at Waterfalls Park in southwest suburban Worth notifying residents it was no longer open to the public. Officials say the park will remain closed until further notice after at least five instances where parkgoers reported having close encounters with what the victims believed to be a coyote.
Four of the five people who suffered the animal attacks reported to have been bitten.
Wildlife experts say it is not a coyote on the loose, but something else. Regardless, trappers are trying to find the animal before anyone else gets hurt.
Residents John and Sandy Rumoro told NBC 5 they was enjoying the scenery with their teenage grandson, Christopher, when they came in contact with the animal.
“My grandson tripped and fell and when he tripped and fell the coyote started biting at his leg," Sandy Rumoro said.
The 16-year-old’s attack in April was the first of the series of recent reported incidents. He had to undergo painful rabies shots after a creature looking like this coyote bit his ankle, his family says.
"The problem with these coyotes is that, like the squirrels and the birds right now, they've become urbanized,” John Rumoro said. “They avoid people, but they're not afraid of us anymore, at all."
Since then, two women and an 8-year-old boy were attacked by what they also described to be a coyote.
Wildlife experts say coyotes are not known to attack humans and they believe based on studies of fecal evidence that it is wild dog is on the loose.
The park remained closed from late May through all of June. After being reopened for just a few days, a fifth person was almost attacked. Again, it was a reported coyote- looking animal that had approached a young boy, but his dad managed to scare it away.
Wildlife officials have been combing the park, searching for anything that could pose a threat in hopes of catching the animal before reopening the park.