A Chicago woman, Miliani DeAira, had a terrifying encounter November 19th with the elusive coywolf. The coywolf, also called the Eastern Coyote, is a coyote and wolf hybrid and has not previously been reported in Chicago or suburbs. It is not a coyote. DeAira is familiar with coyotes from living in Los Angeles and Chicago. Several nights ago she had an encounter with coyotes in Olive Park near Navy Pier and Ohio Street Beach in the Streeterville neighborhood. Her big Malmute/Husky Mix, Aspen, and her Husky, Jagger, easily chased off the coyotes in the popular downtown park. The encounter on the 19th in the same park was something entirely different.
DeAira said: “Tonight we were walking on the Lakefront Trail toward Ohio Street beach and saw what appeared to be a coyote. (DeAira’s photo is to the right.) But, as we got closer, I quickly realized that it wasn’t. It was massive, as big as my Malamute and very furry. As we walked past, it started running full speed at us. I ran closer to the street and it stopped. My boyfriend had a similar encounter in the same location last week.”
“What’s scary is that as we walked past, it started running full speed at us.”
The coywolf is a result of the interbreeding of the eastern wolf and the western coyote, first documented in Canada in 1919. It has legs much longer than a coyote’s, thick fur and a wolflike appearance. DeAira took photos of the animal on Ohio Street Beach, next to Lake Michigan, and its legs are clearly longer than a coyote’s. This would be the first sighting of a coywolf in Chicago.
This coywolf may have been trying to scare away the Malmutes. Maybe they looked like a threat to his territory. Coyotes are omnivores and help to keep down the rodent population. Let’s hope the coywolf will also be snacking on rats, but Streeterville residents would do well to keep their dogs on a short leash.
If you are interested in learning more about the coywolf, there is an excellent PBS Nature Documentary on coywolves and coyotes.
I would be interested in seeing other photos and videos of this coywolf in Streeterville. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and be careful out there!
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