Coyote rescued from car grille returns to wild

After five months in rehabilitation, Vern, the coyote, is free.

Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation in Barrington cared for the injured coyote, who they named Vern after the Buick Verano that hit him last September in Waukegan. Vern was found wedged in the grille of the car, injured but alive.

After helping to heal his three broken legs and multiple bone fractures, the privately funded wildlife rehabilitation group released Vern back into the wild Saturday night at an undisclosed location, said Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Director and Founder Dawn Keller.

Even though she'd cared for Vern every day, Keller said it was not a tearful goodbye, but a happy one.

“The second we let a coyote go, they run like the dickens to get away from us. That's what Vern did,” Keller said. “We couldn't be happier with his recovery, and the physical condition he left us in. People think releases must be sad moments for us, but they're really joyous moments. Everything we do is with the intention of releasing an animal when it's better.”

Coyotes often get a bad reputation in the suburbs for killing small dogs and cats, prompting some towns to look into control measures, like trapping and euthanizing. Others, like Kane County, preach coyote co-existence with guidelines for discouraging interactions with humans and keeping pets safe.

Vern was struck by a driver who was on his way to the Waukegan Metra station last September. He knew he hit something, but didn't see anything in the road so continued on for several more miles. When the driver pulled into the station, he discovered the animal trapped in the grille of the car, according to a report by CBS2 Chicago.

Waukegan Police Department's animal control officer carefully removed the coyote and handed the injured animal over to Flink Creek volunteers. Vern's head was not injured, but he was in shock and his legs were badly broken, Keller said. The trauma alone could have killed him.

“When he was first admitted, we didn't know if he was going to make it through the next couple of nights,” Keller said.

Vern did not require any surgery, but his three legs were set until they could heal. Soon he was able to walk again, and then started running and jumping in his outdoor cage. He was ready to be freed at the end of January, but February's brutal cold and snow postponed his release, Keller said.

While they can be dangerous to dogs and cats, coyotes are so afraid of humans, they'll cower, hide and urinate on themselves if anyone comes near them, Keller said.

The Flint Creek group has rehabbed several coyotes over the years, including a few well-known rescues like Holly, the coyote found floating on (and frozen to) an ice block in Lake Michigan, near Fullerton Avenue beach in Chicago.

Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation cares for 3,000 animals a year — everything from hummingbirds to large mammals, with volunteers and supervision from Niles veterinarian Dr. Peter Sakas. The only animals the organization doesn't take are skunks, bats and raccoons.

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Vern, rescued from the grille of a Buick Verano in Waukegan, had three of his legs taped up while being treated at Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation in Barrington. Photo courtesy of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation
Vern, the coyote found trapped alive and badly injured in the grille of a car, was released back into the wild last weekend by the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation group in Barrington. Photo courtesy of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation
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