Coyotes Battle Chicago Rat Infestation
Chicago’s municipality has found some new employees, about 250 of them, to help keep the city clean—and without the need to dole out any expensive pensions, either. So who makes up this new hiring push in Chicago? Coyotes, of course.
WGN-TV aired a news story showing a video, presumably captured on someone’s phone, of a coyote running down the Loop’s State Street at around 3am. An inquiry was made to the city’s police, asking them if they were aware of the predator or coyote problems in the city.
The police stated they had no knowledge of why the animal might be there; however, a supervisor at the Chicago Commission on Animal Care and Control, Brad Block, stated that he knew the real reason the coyote was spotted: he was working.
According to Block, this coyote and a number like it, each fitted with a GPS collar, are used to help the city lower its pest problems. The coyotes feast on rats, mice and rabbits—veritably, the greenest pest control available as it fits right in with the ecological food chain. Block goes on to say that these coyotes are not a problem: “He’s not a threat…He’s not going to pick up your children…His job is to deal with all of the nuisance problems, like mice, rats and rabbits” (Chicago Breaking News).
These coyotes are not a source of concern for citizens, Block affirms, they’re let loose only to control the pest population. However, since this news story broke, there have been several other ideas put out there as to the real reason Chicagoans are seeing coyotes in their city.
Treehugger.com, the popular green blog, believes the coyotes are part of the 250 coyotes radio-tagged for the Urban Coyote Ecology and Management program, a research project run by Cook County to see how coyotes fare in large urban areas. Coyotes, a natural part of the plains geography and ecological system, have been pushed out of the city and had to redefine their role within the dynamics of the human presence.
What’s become remarkable is that these coyotes have risen to the top of the food chain in many metropolitan areas where coyotes are present. This means that the coyotes have become more brazen and bold, venturing outwards into the cities where years ago they would never have been found.
Is Coyote Pest Control Safe?
Many cities in the Southwest have already learned first-hand what happens when the coyotes move in to the metropolitan area. In California and Arizona, people have taken to feeding the coyotes, giving them handouts, making them more comfortable with people and counting on people as a source of food.
Many coyotes have had to be removed from those areas as the coyotes start to take advantage of the comfort afforded to them: often times attacking and eating pets and, in very small cases, attacking children. The coyotes had become a pest.
While it isn’t certain exactly if the coyote caught on video was part of the Urban Coyote program, or if it was in fact “let loose” for the purposes of pest control, what is certain is the rising number of coyote sightings (and road-kill) in Chicago and the very real fact that they’re figuring out how to return to their indigent plains habitat and reclaim their role as top predator.
About the author: Thomas dedicates himself to environmental issues including humane bird and pest control. When he’s not reviewing companies like www.bird-x.com, you can find him training for his first marathon.