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Hands off coyotes, City Council says

Sun-Times file photo

Chicago’s inundated Department of Animal Care and Control was ordered Wednesday to turn the other cheek when it comes to coyotes, keeping them around to control the city’s burgeoning rat population.

The City Council authorized the so-called “coyote management program” championed by rookie Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd).

The fundamental policy change calls for Animal Care and Control officers to keep their hands off coyotes — and not attempt to trap or remove them — unless the animal poses an imminent danger caused by attacks or aggressive behavior.

Instead, the “default policy” would be “humane hazing” to scare coyotes away from areas where they are not wanted. That would not take nearly as much time or effort for an under-staffed department that already has its hands full.

Keeping coyotes around kills two birds with one stone, Hopkins said. And that’s not a figure of speech.

“They prey on rodents. And they also prey on Canada goose eggs — particularly on the lakefront when the geese nest. They nest on the ground and eggs are accessible to coyotes. Some estimates are coyotes keep the geese population down by 50 percent. So, they’re beneficial animals,” Hopkins said.

The alderman noted that coyotes are “extremely hard to catch” because they’re so quick. It’s hardly worth the trouble. Animal care has better things to do, he said.

“Every time Animal Control gets a 911 call, they go out, try and catch the coyote and they fail. They can’t do it. It’s a complete waste of time and it really doesn’t solve anything anyway,” he said.

“Also, the study that we have shows that the mortality rate for relocated coyotes is 99 percent. So, every time we trap one or tranquilize one and move it to the forest preserve, it winds up dying. So, that’s really not a human solution either.”