Animal activists, authorities search for tips in coyote deaths; survivor recovering

BARRINGTON HILLS, Ill. — Animal activists and law enforcement officers are seeking information about the deaths of several coyote pups in a northwestern suburb of Chicago.

A fisherman found a burlap bag with seven 1-pound coyote pups in Penny Pond in Barrington Hills last month, and only one of the animals, now named Peace, survived. That pup suffered a badly injured leg, The Lake County News-Sun reported.

“The leg was shattered — it was dangling and misshapen, and it was sticking out slightly because of a hip fracture,” said Dawn Keller, an animal rehabber with Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation.

Keller has teamed up with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police, Cook County Forest Preserve Police and the Humane Society of the United States to bring attention to the coyote deaths.

“Coyotes are really misunderstood,” she said.

State conservation officer Sgt. Jed Whitchurch calls the incident “a heinous wildlife crime.”

“This was not a humane act,” he said. “This is an unusual case — it’s not the norm.”

A reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible recently climbed to $8,000.

“Cold-case wildlife cases are tough. We’re hoping with the financial reward someone with information will come forward and tell us,” Whitchurch said.

The state Natural Resources Department says that about 7,000 coyotes are taken through hunting or trapping each year in Illinois. About 75 percent of those are taken by hunters and about 25 percent by trapping, which is restricted to fall and winter months.