A coyote was spotted in Central Park on Sunday, a pretty rare sight, even amongst 840 acres of park land, a spokesperson for the Parks Department told Gothamist.
"It is rare to see a coyote in Central Park, but not too surprising," Meghan Lalor, Director of Media Relations for NYC Parks told us. "Coyotes are known to roam and can explore up to 10 miles in one day. This is also the time of year that we typically see them—pups are born around March/April, and then in a year or so when they become young adults, they begin to disperse from their families. It’s funny, they’re kind of like your average teenager that way."
Lalor didn't have exact stats on hand regarding annual coyote sightings, but added that they received one report of a coyote sighting through their WildlifeNYC website this year, and it was last week on March 20th. "It’s really important for people to report sightings to us so we can learn more about these animals and their behavior," she noted. "Outside of the website, we did hear about sightings in early March of this year (3/6 and 3/24) and also heard of a sighting in March 2017." Pretty much confirms we're in the midst of coyote season!
This week's coyote was spotted by Deborah Allen, who took the above photo. Allen told Gothamist she was on a "Birding Bob" birdwalk led by Robert DeCandido at around 11 a.m. on Sunday when she heard a couple of people talking about a fox. "When I realized it was a coyote," she said, "I immediately took some photos. The coyote climbed up the rock below Belvedere Castle (Vista Rock) and disappeared from view. We weren't able to see the coyote from Shakespeare Garden... [it] was inside the fenced construction area surrounding the castle. I think the reason the coyote appeared on the rock was that a couple of boys with fishing rods were inside the fenced area."
There have not been any reported sightings since Sunday, but the Parks Department asks that New Yorkers report coyote sightings to their website or by calling 311, adding to "only call 911 if there is a clear threat to public safety." They also provided the below tips on coexisting with coyotes in NYC:
- Do not feed coyotes. Keeping coyotes wild is the key to coexistence. Feeding coyotes can cause them to lose their natural hunting instincts and cause coyotes to associate humans with food.
- Observe and appreciate coyotes from a distance. Though they may look similar to dogs, coyotes are wild animals. The best way to ensure both your safety and the safety of the coyote is to keep your distance.
- Store all food and garbage in animal-proof containers. Coyotes are very resourceful, and will find ways into unsecured trash bins and pet food containers.
- Protect your pets. Walk dogs on a leash and keep cats inside for safety.
- Keep coyotes wary. If you are approached, make yourself look bigger by putting your arms up, and make loud noises until the coyote retreats. Appreciate coyotes from a distance.
As for, say, Mandarin ducks coexisting with the coyote, Lalor noted that (per WildlifeNYC) "coyotes prefer to eat prey like mice, rats, squirrels, and rabbits. That said, they are not picky eaters, and will expand their diets to include plant materials, berries, and insects depending on what is seasonally and locally available. Coyotes will even eat pet food that is left outside, bird seed from feeders, and garbage, so it is important not to unintentionally feed coyotes this way."
For further reassurance regarding the safety of Mandarin Patinkin, simply click through to this article about coyotes and ducks being friends (since coyotes will often kill other predators of the duck). Unclear how coyotes feel about great blue herons (like Charlize Heron)... which, incidentally, are predators of ducklings. This Central Park wildlife soap opera is really coming together nicely just in time for sweeps.