Orphaned coyote pups on the mend at Flint Creek after nearly drowning in den

  • One of four Lake County coyote pups who survived last week's storms rests in the care of Barrington's Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation.

    One of four Lake County coyote pups who survived last week's storms rests in the care of Barrington's Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation. Courtesy of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation

  • Dawn Keller, founder and director of Barrington's Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation, cradles a baby coyote she rescued after two hours of digging by hand.

    Dawn Keller, founder and director of Barrington's Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation, cradles a baby coyote she rescued after two hours of digging by hand. Courtesy of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation

  • A Waukegan Township employee and volunteers from the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation in Barrington helped rescue four coyote pups last week after storms destroyed their den.

    A Waukegan Township employee and volunteers from the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation in Barrington helped rescue four coyote pups last week after storms destroyed their den. Courtesy of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation

 
 
Updated 5/22/2020 7:27 PM

Four coyote pups caught in a deluge that nearly drowned them in their own den owe their lives to compassionate wildlife lovers with sharp ears and ties to Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation in Barrington.

In the wake of last week's thunderstorms, a Waukegan Township employee heard animal cries near a building on township property and went to investigate, said Flint Creek founder and director Dawn Keller. Discovering two coyote pups, he recalled another employee had mentioned that an adult coyote had been struck and killed by a car several days earlier, Keller said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The employee rescued two pups and called Illinois' Department of Natural Resources, which referred him to Flint Creek, an all-volunteer rehabilitation center. A Flint Creek volunteer then rescued a third pup from the collapsed den. But both the volunteer and Keller had lingering concerns.

"I called (him) and said, 'Do you think there were more?'" she said, to which he responded, "I know there were more."

They headed back to the site, where they searched concrete sewer pipes partially buried under asphalt and dirt. Lying on her stomach and using a flashlight, Keller looked through the pipes, which were collapsed and full of dirt.

Keller recovered a dead pup, but she continued looking after hearing another pup's cries. Pinpointing the location, she dug with her bare hands for about two hours until she found it.

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"It was pretty amazing it was still alive," Keller said of the pup, which she described as nonresponsive and "super critical."

Keller estimates the pups are less than 2 weeks old. At 1 pound each, the three males and one female are undernourished but "hanging in there," she said.

After addressing medical issues, volunteers will work on "getting their weight up," she said. "Once that's done, we raise them until they're old enough to survive in the wild."

That will likely take a few months, after which volunteers will release the coyotes back into Lake County.

"We never reveal locations because unfortunately coyotes are misunderstood and maligned unnecessarily," said Keller, whose organization treats more than 3,000 animals each year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Keller, who has cared for many coyotes, disputes the myth that they are aggressive. She said she has never been attacked or bitten, though she acknowledges coyotes can pose a threat to small pets.

"They'd rather run from a person than have a confrontation," she said.

"Coyotes aren't the horrible creatures people make them out to be," she added. "They just want to be left alone to raise their families and do their thing."

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