Urban Wildlife

I spend a lot of time on my skates, travelling across the city and exploring its side streets, parks and alleys. In my 10 years of exploration I have encountered a surprising amount of wildlife in Chicago, from beavers to opposums to freshwater turtles, entirely by accident.

Raccoon in Rogers Park

I don’t know if these animals have always been here, and the city simply built itself around them, or if Chicago displaced them and they’re slowly creeping back in. I do know that public sightings in the last few years have become increasingly exotic and unexpected.

In 2008, Chicago police shot and killed a wild cougar, in Roscoe Village, of all places. I remember few years ago, there was a pack of wild coyotes living downtown! There is currently a cast of peregrine falcons occupying the balcony windows of the Uptown Theatre, and on weekdays the bankers and baristas arrive at dawn to find pigeon heads and feet strewn across the sidewalk.

Below are the animals I have captured with my camera over the last few years.

Have you spotted any wild animals in the city? Do you have photos? Drop me a line in the comments section below.


  1. Read about Chicago’s coyotes.
  2. Read more about the cougar shot in Roscoe Village in ’08.
  3. You can read more about Chicago’s falcons on the Chicago Peregrine Falcon blog.
  4. The now-defunct Chicago Wilderness Magazine has a list of links on their site that you might find useful if you want to learn more about wildlife in Chicago. There’s also Chicago Wildlife News, though both these sites seem to cater to Chicagoland, rather than Chicago proper.
Posted September 20, 2010 and filed under ; .