Telling Coyote Stories

“WANTED!” the Chicago Sun-Times headline screamed on the morning of January 11, over a stock photo of a large and very healthy looking coyote. The day before, a six-year-old child had been bitten repeatedly by a coyote on the grounds of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, an institution devoted to Chicago’s unique natural history. A second reported biting incident was under investigation at the time of this writing. 

The language of many headlines related to these incidents conjured an army of aggressive and intentional villains. News outlets as far afield as the New York Post proclaimed: “Coyotes attack 5-year-old boy, grown man in Chicago”[1] (note:…

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