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Seeing wildlife in urban areas always captures the imagination of the city.  Wildlife running through 4 lane canyons flash us reminders of what lived here before.  Last night a coyote seen running through downtown Chicago amazed the public… but was no surprise for Chicago's Animal Control.  When contacted, the department said 250 GPS wearing coyotes are being reintroduced to urban Chicago as pest control.  This vestige of a wilder America displaced by years of urban development may become a more common sight and the howl, a more common sound at night in Chicago.

The breaking news story from Chicago Breaking News below.

A coyote loping along the South Loop streets this morning was probably at his job searching out rodents, according to city animal welfare officials.

A video shot last night at 3 AM shows the coyote running down State Street as cars and a moving truck pass by. Brad Block, a supervisor for the Chicago Commission on Animal Care and Control, said the animal has the run of the Loop to help deal with rats and mice. He said no one has called today to complain.

"He's not a threat…He's not going to pick up your children," Block said. "His job is to deal with all of the nuisance problems, like mice, rats and rabbits."


Block said he believes the coyote is one of those fitted with a GPS device to monitor its whereabouts. He said the coyote is pretty timid and stays away from people.

Cook County officials have fitted a few coyotes with GPS as part of an urban coyote project and has allowed them to run wild in Chicago to deal with the rodent population. It was unclear whether this coyote is part of that program. The animal was not captured.

Earlier this year, another coyote was found in a park near the Chicago River and would return there to scavenge for food, he said.

That animal had to be removed because it had become accustomed to people and their handouts. It was eventually taken to a wildlife center.

– Carlos Sadovi

What sort of wildlife lives in your town?

If you're interested in more city wildlife check out this LoE story about a hawk named, Pale Male, living in NYC.

Inner city youth are often cast off as failures and drop outs who cause destruction in their communities. But the Earth Conservation Corps is trying to channel that energy.  They are a youth development and environmental restoration organization based in Southeast Washington D.C. The Corpos employs troubled young adults from the area and puts them to work cleaning up the Anacostia river.  The Anacostia river is not only one of the nation’s most polluted rivers but also runs through one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods; Anacostia.  

Located only a few blocks away from the US Capitol, Anacostia is choked by high crime, poverty, and heavy pollution.  It isn’t surprising that the river has just as many problems. About 20,000 tons of trash are dumped in the river each year and every time it rains in the district, raw sewage overflows into the river resulting in a total of two billion gallons of raw sewage every year.  

Corps members, who often come from criminal backgrounds, clean up debris, educate community youth about native wildlife and the environment, and investigate to find pollution sources.  Over 400 students have graduated from the Earth Conservation Corps. While in the program, members are paid minimum wage, given health insurance, and receive a $5,000 scholarship if they choose to go onto college. 

But they can’t save everyone. The Earth Conservation Corps has lost at least one member each year, many of which were the result of violence.  Diamond Teague, a 19 year old who completed 7 months in the ECC was murdered in 2003.  He was shot in the head while he was sitting on his front porch.  Another member, Aaron Teeter, was a high school dropout and former drug dealer before he joined ECC.  When he became a member, he became interested in journalism and video making.  But he too was shot in the head while sitting on his front stoop.   

The Earth Conservation Corps now documents all of it’s activities on video in hopes to tell the world about not only the environmental injustice in Anacostia but also the harsh realities young adults face every day.

Photo courtesy of Ali Sanders