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Coyotes spotted near Wrigley Field gates

(Will Byington)

The Chicago Cubs announced the hiring of Rob Deer as the team's new assistant hitting coach on Monday,  but the old slugger was not the only sign of wildlife spotted around Wrigley Field in recent days. As you can see in the photo above, a pair coyotes were spotted walking around Wrigleyville on Saturday night (no doubt having heard rumors of Deer's imminent arrival).

Lucky for us, the appearance of the coyotes near the Friendly Confines isn't just some kind of newfangled urban legend but instead a real episode, captured by Chicago photographer Will Byington. After some quick thinking, Byington caught the beasts on film and then told NBC Chicago all about it.

Byington was photographing a live band at the Cubby Bear when the doormen reported that a couple of coyotes were outside the stadium by the Ernie Banks statue. Byington, armed with his camera, and a couple of employees headed outside to investigate.

"The scary thing is that they didn't seem afraid. You'd think they'd be cowering, but they didn't seem vicious," Byington said. "Some people were laughing, and started following them, but they didn't seem concerned. They seemed to be checking out the neighborhood and enjoying it."

What's to fear? Lakeview is the kind of neighborhood any pair of young wolves on the hunt would dig. Especially since urinating on buildings to mark one's territory is a common and accepted practice in the area (I say this as an annoyed former resident of one of those buildings.)

(Getty)It's easy to say the canines were attracted to the scent of "death and decay," as Deadspin put it in a cheap shot directed at the Cubs. But that's not fair to Rob Deer, despite his notoriety for striking out as a player with the Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers. As a teacher, he should be given every opportunity to help Cubs hitters reach their potential. He can't help it if they can't hit! Deer will assist James Rowson, who was the interim hitting coach in 2012 after the team parted with Rudy Jaramillo.

As for the beasts, animals have been encroaching deeper into Chicago (as in many cities) for years. They're looking for food, finding plenty in the garbage or in our back yards. They're apparently unafraid of us because we city folk think they look like cute li'l puppy dawgs, awww! Until the coyotes try to eat our cute little puppy dogs, anyway. At least one study shows there might be hundreds, or even thousands, of these wild beasts living in Chicago.

And it's not just the Wolfen types, either. About five years ago, they shot a cougar dead in Roscoe Village, also on the city's North Side. (She was a real looker, too.)

But these coyotes are a nuisance and can be very dangerous if you're not paying attention. Which is something Chicagoans have known since Raffi Torres laid that hit on Marian Hossa in the playoffs last spring.

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