CHICAGO (AP) — Wild baseball fans might be a standard sight at Wrigley Field, but a pair of wild coyotes milling around Chicago's historic ballpark — surrounded on all sides by bars, restaurants and busy streets — wasn't what one photographer was expecting on a busy Friday night.
So he quickly grabbed his camera.
"They were just kind of chilling," freelance photographer Will Byington said. "They were hanging out and not even doing much. They were kind of just checking out the scene on a Friday night in Wrigleyville. It was like they were on a date, taking a stroll."
Byington said he was shooting a concert at a bar across the street from the stadium in the Wrigleyville neighborhood, notoriously crowded and often rowdy on weekend nights, when he saw the two coyotes hanging out by the statute of former Chicago Cubs player Ernie Banks, near the ticketing area.
"It was kind of like they were looking for tickets," the 34-year-old Chicago resident laughed. "They went by the ticket window and unfortunately found it was closed, so they were ready to move onto the bar."
Wildlife ecologist Stanley Gehrt, who has extensively studied coyotes living in and around Chicago, said coyotes have been in the area for the past decade. He said the latest data shows there are at least 2,000 coyotes in Cook County, where Chicago is located.
"That's their territory. They live there," Gehrt, who works at Ohio State University, said of the unusual pair, which he said were born and raised in the city and likely live in Wrigleyville.
Byington had just a few minutes to snap his nighttime photos before the animals moved on. But he said the coyotes appeared unfazed by the honking horns and packed sidewalks. One even stepped onto a street as cabs and cars crawled by in traffic as if the coyote was "trying to figure out, do they want to eat? Or do they want to get a drink?" he said.
Byington didn't think much of his photos until he posted them online. But they started gathering attention after getting picked up on Facebook by the Cubby Bear bar where he had been working that night.
Chicago Cubs fan Dan Michaels reasons that the coyotes were likely fellow fans of the lackluster team and simply mixed up their calendars.
"My personal theory is they don't know that the Cubs play in summer," he said Wednesday as he walked by the stadium. "They picked the wrong season to wait out by the game."