Though an 11-year-old Winfield, Ill. boy raced to grab a baseball bat in an attempt to scare off a coyote with an eye on his family's tiny Yorkshire Terrier, the effort was no match for the determined prairie wolf.
The Daily Herald reports that, around 9 p.m. Tuesday, Coco, the 3 1/2-pound dog belong to Leslee and Timothy Bassett, was snatched up from the family's backyard. The dog was found dead along the Illinois Prairie Path behind the house a half-hour later.
Tim Bassett told NBC Chicago the dog will be deeply missed.
"She was a real tiny little dog but she loved everybody and everybody always wanted to take her home," Bassett said. "They all loved her. She was a great little dog."
The Bassett family's tragedy is just one of a series of recent instances of coyotes attacking small dogs in the Chicago area. Late last month, two small dogs survived a coyote attack in a backyard in nearby Wheaton, Ill. A week prior to that, another Yorkshire Terrier puppy died in a separate coyote encounter which also occurred in Wheaton.
Sightings of coyotes and other, larger predators such as bears, cougars and wolves have grown increasingly common in the Chicago area -- a trend wildlife experts told the Chicago Tribune that won't be changing any time soon. Coyotes, in particular, are reportedly "thriving" in the area.
"They've adapted so well to suburbia that they're not afraid of anything," wildlife control expert Robert Erickson told the Tribune of the area's coyotes. "Once they become habituated, that's when you have problems."
Unconfirmed cougar sightings have been reported in Schaumburg and several other North Shore communities in recent months, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.