Meet Chicago’s Four-Legged Employees

Like many cities, Chicago has its fair share of four-legged employees.  There are of course Police/Fire dogs as well as assistance and therapy pups, but today I wanted to introduce everyone to some four-legged workers that most people never see, let alone know exist!  Recently, my friend was lucky enough to snap a photo of one of these night-shift workers on the job.

dog blog

This is no off-leash pet.  Any guesses who this is and what she is up to?

Believe it or not, and I definitely didn’t believe it at first, Chicago has over sixty coyotes living in the city!  These coyotes are no nuisance, they are tagged and tracked as they go about their business of keeping the urban population of rodents, geese and other small animals in check.  The coyotes are quite averse to human contact which is why many Chicago residents have no idea they even exist.

pet adventure

Coyotes: proudly serving Chicago (officially) since 2000 (Source: Wikipedia)

There is a great article/video about the coyotes here and more information about the Coyote Project can be found here.  These city ghosts, as the coyotes are known, can be found even in the most dense urban area of Chicago, so I hope to see one in person one day.  And if I am lucky enough to see a coyote it will give me the opportunity to ask if there are any job openings.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Eko definitely has the instincts for the gig!

As far as I know, Chicago’s Coyote Project is the only one of its kind.  Does anyone know of any similar programs?  I would love to read about how other places handle conservation issues in unique ways.

26 thoughts on “Meet Chicago’s Four-Legged Employees”

  1. Fascinating. Amazing how they are managing to live, unseen and pretty much unknown to the general public, in such a built up place. Of course, living in Africa. people have been known to think our streets are home to lions and elephants and the likes which, of course, they are not 🙂 Imagine, however, how few rodents would survive a couple of lions on the prowl.

  2. That’s a very unique program for sure. We used to see a lot of them at the lake and hear their woeful howls at night. We did see one in the river valley last summer. Looked super healthy, not like it’s country cousins who were always pretty scruffy looking. In the country, they travel in packs and it’s a little scary for family pets.

    • It’s been really informative to hear everyone’s opinions about the Coyote Project. Growing up in NJ and then only living in cities since, I have had next to no experience with the major problems that coyotes can cause in some areas. Eko’s much bigger than most coyotes, but still, I’m with you – I would prefer not to run into one on our evening walk. I think the project works in Chicago because the coyotes are averse to human contact – so much so that most people don’t know about them – and because they are closely monitored. There are undoubtedly pitfalls with conservation programs like this, but overall I hope the good outweighs the bad.

      • Came back to read comments, looks like a lot of interesting discussion, great idea for a post Will. Everyone’s got their own opinion. I guess it depends on your history with them. Like you mentioned, they’re people adverse where you live and seem to be a good solution. Does they spay the females I wonder?

  3. I’ve never heard of this before, this is really cool! We’ve got some wildlife that comes around here in Wichita, but there have been some problems such as small dogs getting attacked (one of the dogs belonged to my brother in law). In a bigger city like Chicago though I can see why they would be welcome just to help with rats and mice. I’m all for it!

  4. I don’t quite know how I feel about that. I have a friend whose cat was out and was killed by a Coyote. What about the feral cat population in Chicago? What about if a small dog were to become lost and wander into the city? It would be killed. I don’t know if I like that they kill geese. At first when I read this I thought it was a good idea but now that I am giving it some thought, I’m not so sure.

    • As you and others have rightly pointed out, there are certainly potential drawbacks to the program. Some recent research I’ve seen suggests that feral cats can be extremely damaging to the environment/local wildlife, so as in a lot of cases there isn’t a clear cut way to handle the rodent/small animal population. I personally prefer to have fewer poisons used as possible and to me it seems like the Coyote Project is a good attempt at creating a natural balance. It’s far from perfect, but I’m not sure what a better alternative is. Hope conversations like this can help make the program better.


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