By Darryl Fears
On a cold, miserable morning in May, Stan Gehrt trod across an open field as wind and rain blew in his face. He was leading a team of wildlife biologists on a mission to find an animal with a gift for not being seen.
The team didn’t have to travel far from its headquarters for the search. A female coyote had made a den within sight of Chicago’s skyline. They were only “about five kilometers” from America’s busiest airport, O’Hare International, Gehrt said as he advanced toward the den, wind howling through his cellphone microphone during an interview.
Like every state east of the Mississippi River, Illinois is worried about its growing population of city-slicker coyotes. The animals surged from their original habitat in the West after what many now consider a colossal mistake — government-sanctioned predator removal programs that virtually wiped out red and gray wolves.
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