Coyote Controversy: The Truth About Latin’s Furry Friend

For readers who have been living under a rock, a coyote in Lincoln Park rose to fame (or infamy) last week. Lovingly named Bartholemew (by its Instagram page), the coyote sparked intense controversy, and indirectly incited a fistfight ending in a police call.

After discovering the coyote, community members reacted in different ways. Some kept a respectful distance, obeying the sign that the (alleged) wilderness rehabilitation expert put up, reading “Please Ignore The Coyote” in large lettering. Some fed it blackberries (which, to their credit, is a common coyote snack). Allegedly, some Middle Schoolers threw rocks at it. It was these behaviors that led to the animal control presence beginning Thursday. “We were concerned that people were provoking her,” said an animal control employee.




Though some of the anger and passion displayed by Latin students may have been misdirected (toward a certain animal control employee), it certainly came from a place of love. By Friday, an Instagram page, @coyote_of_lsoc, had arisen, with adoring fans filling the comments.

Among the coyote’s fans was junior Vanessa Block. “I felt very drawn to it,” she said. “It was as if we had a spiritual connection.”

Other students formed attachments as well. Sophomore Mitch Romano was “devastated” upon finding out that animal control was attempting to remove the coyote. “I feel like it’s a basic coyote right to stay in its territory,” he said.

Upper School visual arts teacher Derek Haverland wanted only what was best for the coyote. “Speaking from experience, being shot with a tranquilizer really isn’t that painful!” he said. Presumably he was joking, but you never really know.


Photo: Andrei Nikitovic

By the time the animal control officers started the long, dramatic pursuit of Bartholemew, dozens of students had pressed up against the windows, taking in the chase from classroom windows and the fourth floor bridge. What some may have missed, however, was the unexpected fight scene. A woman, described to be “35-40 years old” by the animal control employee, attempted to physically prevent said employee from tranquilizing the coyote in a misguided quest for justice. The assault escalated, ending with the attacker slapping the animal control employee across the face. The assaulter then ran off down Dearborn, and the victim’s colleague followed in pursuit.

Finally, the animal control worker was able to tranquilize the coyote for a third time, which, at long last, sent the coyote into an afternoon nap. The animal control employee picked it up after dragging it in an attempt to get it to walk, and, with the help of a brave civilian, dragged it to the truck. As the workers attempted to leave the premises, their truck got stuck in the mud. As if things weren’t bad enough, the tow truck that arrived shortly thereafter got stuck in the mud, too. “Honestly, I think all the mishaps were karma for removing the coyote,” Vanessa said.

There are two lessons to be learned from this incident.

One: Respect wildlife! That coyote was extremely harmless and, as Upper School history teacher Stephanie Stephens pointed out, “It brought strangers together” (perhaps with the exception of the animal control employee and her attacker). If only passersby had been able to respect it, maybe old Barto would still be prancing around the History Museum today.

Two: If you ever think you’ve had a bad day, just think of those animal control employees. Things could always be worse.