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So a Coyote Walks Into a Quiznos ...

Quiznos_coyote.jpgOver the years, I'd heard various stories about coyotes visiting Chicago, but I found this week's story particularly amusing.

Shortly after lunchtime on Tuesday, a young male coyote walked through the open door of a Quiznos sandwich shop in downtown Chicago. It tried unsuccessfully to jump over the counter, coming to rest instead inside an open beverage cooler. It remained there for about an hour before animal control took it away.

No one was injured, and two patrons who were there when the coyote entered the shop didn't leave until after they'd finished eating. The other patrons and employees fled outside.

The coyote--which was released Wednesday on private property in the suburbs--was the third one captured in Chicago in recent weeks. The director of Animal Care and Control is quoted in one article as saying that about 10 to 15 are captured every year in the city.

Coyotes were originally inhabitants of middle America, found as far north as Canada south to central Mexico. Scientists attribute the coyote's expansion into other habitats, including cities, to their versatility. They may live alone, in mated pairs, or in packs. The size of their territories may vary. They eat a variety of food. They may be more active at different times of the day. One researcher estimates that within 10 years, beginning in the 1990s, the coyote population in Chicago grew by about 3,000%. He credits coyotes with keeping the Canada geese population in check by eating their eggs.

The majority of coyote attacks on humans have been bites, frequently inflicted when owners have tried to protect their pets. Typically, though, coyotes keep a low profile. Maybe this one was just looking to become a star.

Links:
"Coyote Visits Loop Restaurant But Doesn't Eat" (Chicago Tribune, includes photos and video)
"City Slinkers" (Smithsonian)
"On the Loose: Urban Coyotes Thrive in North American Cities" (Ohio State research news)

Image: Still from WGN news footage.

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