Chicago, IL

What is a coywolf and do they live in Chicago?

Jennifer Geer

Burr Ridge officials are warning the public about a possible coywolf sighting in the suburb.
Coywolves weigh about 55 pounds more than a typical coyote.Photo byL. David Mech, Bruce W. Christensen, Cheryl S. Asa , Margaret Callahan, Julie K. Young, CC0

(CHICAGO) Burr Ridge officials are investigating the possible presence of a coywolf in the Chicago suburb. Residents have reported seeing the hybrid animal in neighborhoods near the area of 83rd Street and County Line Road.

A coywolf is a coyote-wolf hybrid. They are about 55 pounds heavier than a typical coyote. Coywolves also have longer legs, smaller ears, and a bushier tail. The Burr Ridge Police Department warns that in low light, a coywolf might look similar to a German Shepherd.

Burr Ridge officials recommend calling 911 if you spot the hybrid and it displays aggressive behavior, "to ensure your safety and that of your pets, we strongly advise against attempting to approach this animal. If the animal displays any aggressive behavior, please contact 9-1-1 immediately."

What is a coywolf?

Coywolves are not a new species, but a hybrid of a wolf and a coyote. When scientists tested the DNA of coywolves, they found the hybrids are 60-84 percent coyotes, 8-25 percent wolves, and 8-11 percent dogs.

Do coywolves live in Illinois?

Coyotes are common in the state. Wolves used to be abundant in the area, but are now only occasionally spotted in the state. Wolf-coyote hybrids, however, may become more widespread in the state.

According to the nonprofit wolf education group, Timberwolf Information Network, (TWIN), coywolves are "gaining ground in habitats where wolves have been eradicated."

There have been previous reports of possible coywolves spotted around the Chicago area.


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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area.

Chicago, IL

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