Here's another sign of spring*: A coyote wandering around a Manhattan park!
Travis Aikman and Robert Randall saw a magnificent Canis latrans with a wavy stripe on its coat in Fort Tryon Park on Monday night. They had seen a coyote last May and June, but were never able to capture it on camera. "They move so fast and are so well hidden," Randall said.
In December, Inwood resident Tommy Helgy spotted what looked like a coyote in Inwood Hill Park. According to Patch, "The coyote was eating trash with a possum as [Helgy] and his girlfriend watched it."
No possums were spotted with the Fort Tryon Park coyote this week.
The Gotham Coyote Project — where you can report sightings of coyotes — explains that the animals are in the city "because they are remarkable in their ability to make a living (find food, shelter, and water) in cities while simultaneously avoiding the all-pervasive humans that dominate the landscape. Coyotes have not been 'pushed out' of better, more pristine habitat. Coyotes are here because they can survive and reproduce successfully in our urban landscapes."
There are breeding populations of coyotes in the Bronx. In recent years, more and more coyotes — which can travel up to 10 miles a day — have been seen seen in other parts of the city, such as the Upper West Side, Harlem, and Long Island City.
"Over the last several decades coyotes have been expanding their natural range in response to ample food and open habitat. Coyotes are living within the city limits, we are aware of coyotes living in the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan," Anessa Hodgson, a spokesperson for the NYC Parks Department told Gothamist.
She continued, "Seeing a coyote for the first time can be an exhilarating or an alarming experience. Most coyotes are not dangerous and actively try to avoid people. By following simple coexistence guidelines — such as observing them from a distance — you can keep yourself, your family, your pets, and even the coyotes safe."
Here are the Parks Department's 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.
There appears to be at least one coyote who calls Central Park home:
*Coyote mating season is January-March, and the Parks Department says they may be seen or heard more around that time. Also, after breeding season in the spring, coyote pups will leave their packs between October and January.