Water bills being sent in June to residents of Worth will include a warning from village officials about potential coyote encounters, after a 16-year-old boy reported being attacked by a coyote near the Worth Waterfalls and Water’s Edge Golf Club near the Cal-Sag Channel and Harlem Avenue.
The teen and another boy told officials that they climbed down the banks of the Cal-Sag Channel from a walking trail that is part of the park surrounding the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s aeration waterfalls at 116th and Harlem Avenue. The youths said they were trying to get a better look at a beaver they saw near the water, but when they climbed back to the path, a coyote was standing in front of them.
One of the boys ran to the nearby Water’s Edge golf course, but the 16-year-old said he was bitten on the right leg by the animal before he screamed and scared it away.
The teen's grandparents raised the coyote issue at the Worth Village Board meeting on May 3, asking what the village is doing about the recent influx of coyotes in the area of the Worth Waterfalls and Water's Edge Golf Club.
At the meeting, Mayor Mary Werner cited Cook County Animal Control information that there has never been a confirmed coyote bite or attack on people in northeastern Illinois. The same information, as well as tips on dealing with coyotes, is available at urbancoyoteresearch.com,
According to published reports, the Worth officer who filed the report involving the 16-year-old described the wound as a "superficial scratch." He also noted that the teen did not see the animal bite him. The second teen told police he did not see the coyote near his friend because he had already fled.
Coyotes are likely attracted to the area because the surrounding woods provide cover, and the ducks, geese and seagulls that congregate there provide a food source.
There are signs up around the waterfalls warning against feeding the wildlife, but they are largely ignored by people who also flock to the area to enjoy the sights and walking paths. Many bring bread and other items to feed the birds, almost beside the signs saying not to.
This makes the site more attractive to birds, and possibly coyotes, too.
In addition, according to a study done by biology students at nearby Trinity Christian College last spring found that large numbers of coyotes and other wildlife are being displaced due to construction infringing on their habitat along the Cal-Sag Channel.
This includes softball, soccer and other athletic fields that have been between the Cal-Sag Channel and Route 83.
Briidgeview resident Brandy Markusic was taking her elderly mixed-breed dog, Skokie, for a walk around the waterfalls on Sunday, and was not concerned when told about the coyote report.
“Doing this is on Skokie’s bucket list,” she said with a smile. “He’s big but he is blind and deaf so he wouldn’t be much help. I’m not worried about a coyote coming near me. I think they mostly stay away from people,” she said.
“If it was a snake, it would be a different story,” she joked.
Hickory Hills resident Leeanan Sparr and Amber Gibson, of Bridgeview, were sitting chatting near where the coyote is said to have appeared, but they weren’t worried either.
“I’ve never seen any. That sounds like it was just a one-time thing, if it happened,” said Sparr. “Kids are more likely to attack coyotes.”
Because it is illegal in Illinois to trap, hunt or kill coyotes, residents who see one and feel threatened are asked to call Cook County Animal Control.