NYC Coyote Watch 2011: Coyote in Queens

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write about how it’s just about time for New Yorkers to go back on coyote watch.

Well, the coyotes beat me to the punch.

Queens coyote by Marcelo Barrera, NY Post

While I’ve been dawdling, the animals have been on the move.  The first New York City coyote of the season was spotted this past weekend in Queens. Yes, Queens.

It’s around this time each year, in the heart of winter, that parent coyotes kick out the pups that were born the previous spring.

Lounging coyote pups by Ecobirder (click photo to visit site with more wonderful photos)

While the parents get ready to provide for the next litter, the almost-yearlings go out in search of new territory.  With coyote populations expanding and natural habitat shrinking, the wild dogs are increasingly making their home in suburbs and cities.  Last winter, several coyotes were spotted in Manhattan with one animal taking up residence for weeks in Central Park’s Hallett Nature Sanctuary before being captured downtown in Tribeca.

Coyote in Central Park by D. Bruce Yolton, urbanhawks.com

The New York Post reported yesterday that a coyote has been seen in Cavalry Cemetery in Woodside, Queens.  Cemeteries and golf courses offer good habitat for a coyote’s natural prey, including rabbits, squirrels, mice and other rodents.  Many experts have said that Long Island, is the only large land mass in New York State that is not home to coyotes.  No longer. Whether New Yorkers realize it or not, Queens is on Long Island.

But how did the coyote get to Queens?  A large breeding population exists in Westchester with a small population in the Bronx.  Last winter’s Manhattan coyotes may have crossed from the Bronx to Manhattan via the railroad bridge,  or they may have swum across. No one knows for sure.

One possible route for the Queens coyote would be to cross from Mott Haven and Port Harris in the Bronx to Randall’s and Ward’s Islands and from Ward’s to Queens.

The coyote was spotted in a graveyard in Woodside.

Reader, what do you think? If you have a better idea about How the Coyote Came to Queens, please leave a comment.

Last winter, I had the good fortune to watch the Hallett coyote on several occasions, as it made its way out of the sanctuary after dark to hunt for food.  Watching a coyote go about its business in the middle of a bustling city is a strange and magical event, as you can see in Bruce Yolton’s photos and videos of the Central Park coyote.

Central Park Coyote. Photo by D. Bruce Yolton, urbanhawks.com

Coyotes now live in cities throughout the U.S., including downtown Chicago as this video attests.  An enlightened supervisor for Chicago Commission on Animal Care and Control said of the coyote running through city streets at night, “He’s not a threat….His job is to deal with all of the nuisance problems, like mice, rats and rabbits.”

Rats by Blek le Rat

Coyotes are naturally wary of humans. Problems with wildlife generally occur when the animals lose their distrust and come to see humans as a food source.  No, I don’t mean we ourselves are food, but that we provide food, whether directly (“Here, pretty doggy, have a treat”) or indirectly, by leaving garbage – or small pets  – unsecured.

Tasty morsels belong indoors.

As natural habitats shrink, we will increasingly be sharing space with wild animals.  Coyotes are successfully adapting to our presence. We had better start figuring out how to adapt to theirs.

Meanwhile, don’t feed the animals.

Sign in a park in Vancouver, B.C.

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41 Comments on “NYC Coyote Watch 2011: Coyote in Queens”


  1. […] as well as open areas for hunting small rodents. In NYC, a coyote has been frequently spotted at a large cemetery in Queens. (They also breed in the Bronx, and have been seen in Manhattan and Staten Island.) In fact, urban […]

  2. Kevin from Woodside Says:

    I realize the threads on this site are a bit dated but I jus saw a coyote in Woodside near the Amtrak tracks in back of Boulevard Gardens. A couple of years ago Amtrak cut back all the brush along the line and it drove out quite a few wild animals. I’ve seen opossums and racoons on the grounds of Boulevard Gardens since then but never ever thought I’d see a coyote. A very strange experience for a lifelong New Yorker.


    • Thanks so much for posting, Kevin from Woodside. I’m fascinated to hear of your sighting. Here are a couple of other posts that might interest you on coyotes in Queens: Queens Coyotes Expand NYC Range and Co-Exisiting with Urban Coyotes, Even in NYC . Over the past few years, a coyote has been spotted in Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, near the Locust Manor train station in Jamaica. I’m starting to wonder if Queens has a small resident population. The borough has some excellent habitat, particularly in the vast interlinking cemeteries, and coyotes are often able to go about their business under the noses, but beneath the radar of nervous city dwellers. Many cities, including Chicago, now have coyote populations. There is some excellent research going on right now to try to learn more about NYC’s coyotes, but no definitive results yet. Of course, the Bronx has had residents for years now, a coyote was recently photographed on Staten Island, and even Manhattan has had its share of coyotes on the move. I hope you will continue to keep me posted of your sightings!

    • Andre Says:

      yeah the coyote was probably hunting the opossums and raccoons


  3. The Wild Dog Foundation will be speaking on coyotes in the NYC area and the potential for the Borough of Queens in Forest Park in Queens on March 31st 2012 at 1:00 pm contact the Queens Urban Park Rangers for further information


  4. [...] now inhabit the Bronx mainland, and have been been reported in Queens. They are irregular visitors to Manhattan, sometimes taking up temporary residence in Central [...]

    • Pilar Conde Says:

      I have spotted a small black bear in Central Park around 7 pm. I guy walking 100 yards in front of me stopped walking and seemed insecure of what to do, when I looked at where he was looking I saw a black bear cub, it must have weighted 70 or 80 pounds and I dont know who was more scared the bear or us. The bear was very still, petrified I thought, the guy in front of me walked by gingerly and I just turned around and left. It was already dark and there were not people around except a very young couple near 5th avenue.
      I am not sure whom to report the sighting to. The bear was in a darker area by the path that goes around the south side of The Pond.

  5. Mike Wolk Says:

    Has the alligator population been increasing as well? We heard that they were living in the NYC sewers. If you want to know how to coexist with them, we have been living in close proximity with gators forever. I would recommend you to feed them as they eat baby coyotes. (From South Carolina)

  6. R Kuhn Says:

    Feb 2011 Friend spotted one in Flushing cemetary

    • victoria hart Says:

      I thought it was just me going crazy or something but i have seen coyotes NUMEROUS times in my area. I reside in jamaica queens, right behind the long island rail road. The dead end of my street is nothing but open space with trees and grass. At nite on numerous occasions i have seen these baby coyotes running wild. I told my neighbors to be very careful when walking through that dirt path to get to the long island rail road , but no one believed me until they all started to see them for theirselves! one night as i was going through the dirt path with my daughter i spotted one, i began to slowly back track to make my way out of the dirt path as i got to the corner of my street and looked back i noticed the coyote was running in my direction, i quickly ran inside of my house. Are these coyotes dangerous? And if so, what can we do to get rid of these dangerous animals in an area thats surrounded by children? what happens if one of these coyotes attack? THIS IS NOT SAFE AT ALL!! will someone please contact me @ victoriahart89@yahoo.com with some type of answers please! i am very very concerned for my neighbors and my family.


      • Dear Victoria,
        my apologies for responding so late to your comments on Out Walking the Dog, it is hard for me to keep up with all the blogs that exist.
        We are a local wildlife group called the Wild Dog Foudation which speaks on behalf of coyotes and other members of the dog family.
        I’ve spoken in Central Park for two years running and am speaking throughout the city and Long Island in regards to coyotes.
        I assume you may be down in the Rochdale Village area, where reliable photos were taken some time ago.
        There are also feral dogs that frequent the area. Sadly that coommunity has not been open to public talks on these animals to educate the public.
        As far as the description you gave , it could have been misinterpreded that it gave chase, though there could be a myriad of reasons why this behavior was observed. As far a pups go, that would be interesting and I would like to investigate that, I could identify tracks ect.
        If they are breeding and have been there for sometime without incident, than they are behaving naturally and removing them is an impossibility and expensive endeavor, coexistence is key and as long as no one is delibrately feeding them, the coyotes will be doing the area a service by eating the many rats that exist along the LIRR tracks, yes, there are plenty of rats there , if you do see them yell and act agressive ( though with feral dogs, it is the opposite and remain calm and still unitl they loose interest).
        Follow these simple rules and ther should be no conflict, CONFLICT ONLY OCCURS WHEN PEOPLE FEED THEM, the children in your area should not be alarmed, sadly gangs, drugs and many human caused dangers should be a primary concern over a small 35 lb. canine.
        We are available for free talks for your community if you want and you could contact me at anytime with your concerns.
        sincerely,
        http://www.wilddog.org
        Wild Dog Foundation

      • Lianna Says:

        The Locust Manor Rail Road station in Queens? I saw him this morning and he chased my mom last summer when she was taking the dirt path shortcut. They have been there for at least a year if not longer how do we contact animal control? Have they been contacted? Seems odd of not. A sign was just pu up near that park telling people to beware of coyotes.


        • Lianna, thank you for visiting the blog. You could call 311 to report the coyotes or call your local city councilperson. They are not generally considered dangerous to humans, and are currently in residence throughout most of New York State. Coyotes are extremely adaptable animals. In all likelihood, if authorities get rid of them in an area that offers decent habitat, new ones will eventually move in. I believe we humans need to adjust to their presence. Here are a few tips from experts:

          Keep your cats inside (better for the birds, anyway) and keep small dogs close to you and leashed.
          Don’t let small children play outside without supervision, if you know there are coyotes in the area.
          Don’t leave food outside, including pet food.
          Be sure your trash is secured.

          If you do see a coyote, many experts recommend making the encounter an unpleasant one by shouting, waving your arms and otherwise making yourself look like a large and possibly dangerous animal (which humans are!). Do not run away, as most canines (including pet dogs) see that as an invitation to chase! You can throw stones in the coyote’s direction (not AT it but NEAR it).

          Again: Never feed a coyote. (Food = trash, pet food, or … PETS – again, keep those cats INSIDE!)

          Keep coyotes wild, and their natural wariness will tend to keep them at a distance.


          • The Wild Dog Foundation is still available to speak to this community, we have been down there as recently as December 18 speaking to residents and met some great people who are learning about this animal.
            We handed out literature and are hoping people will follow up on it.
            You will not be able to trap it , it is far too intelligent . People are feeding it and this needs to stop now!!
            What is percieved as it chasing people is merely the behavior of expecting handouts from the public WHICH NEEDS TO STOP NOW!!
            DO NOT FEED IT.
            The animal is eating rats at the LIRR Station and is possibly benefitting your community by controlling these rodents, the City cannot invest in a time consuming effort to trap an animal that has acclimated to it’s surroundings , if this is not what you want to hear , then invest in thousands of dollars for a private trapper, if that is not what you want to hear then try to coexist with it, it’s much easier and cheaper.
            And have us speak to your community,
            the coyote has been there for over 4 years and has traversed from the Bronx to get there, it knows the ins and outs of the neighborhood.
            There are feral dogs down there as well and that might add to the confusion of there being more then one coyote.
            Contact us at http://www.wilddog.org for any information on coyotes in and around the tri-state area.
            Check out the other letter above this one on our reply to someone from your community and our explainations, sadly they were unresponsive .


    • Coexisting with Coyotes on Long Island – Patch.com

      The Wild Dog Foundation is available for free public talks on coyotes in urban areas to all communities in NYC , Westchester and Long Island
      http://www.wilddog.org
      (check out “Out Walking the Dog” link on WDF website)


      • HAVE WOLF-LIKE CANIDS RETURNED TO LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK?
        It has been nearly 400 yrs since wolf-like howls resignated on Long Island , an almost 100 mile stretch of land off the east coast and part of NY.
        In the early colonial period , British and Dutch settlers placed bounties, which in some old town records are still in print, and being seperate from the mainland, the animals were quickly eradicated.
        The last 100 yrs has seen a new wolf-like canid colonize the east in the wake of the original wolf’s absence, the Eastern coyote or coywolf. An animal that the last remaining wolves hybridized with to a varying degree.
        This coywolf has done well in human altered landscapes and has even adapted to the major metropolisis having been officially documented in the NYC area as early as 1995.
        Coyotes are successfully breeding in the Borough of the Bronx (Weckel, Bogan, NYC Parks Dept.) And occassionally young animals disperse into Manhattan, but are either removed or do not survive.
        The only land mass devoid of coywolves is Long Island (including Queens and Brooklyn) which has ample habitat and potential food sources such as geese (Ghert), rats (Ghert) , and abundanty deer further east (Bogan, Frair, Curtis).
        Being an island , this land mass poses some challenges for dispersing animals , though not an impossibility.
        Coyotes are good swimmers and could certainly swim the narrowest distance between the Bronx and Queens, or even island hop, from one to the next (Out Walking the Dog, website) or brazen enough to traverse the bridges from the Bronx to Queens (Jon Way).
        Regardless , reliable photos of coyotes in the Borough of Queens (Marcelo Barero, Rochdale Security,) and the fact that they have been documented on Fisher’s Island (an island that is part of the Town of Southold) show that indeed they have made it to Long Island, and wolf-like animals again roam it’s shores.
        Benefitting LI’s ecology, by eating geese , rats and possibly lowering the risk of Lyme Disease , we cannot say for sure if they have been breeding or if any subsequent gnerations will survive, but poplulations will always be low due to the difficulties of getting there.
        Coexisting with Coyotes on Long Island
        Mineola resident Frank Vincenti gives perspective on coyotes in urban areas.

        By Karissa Collucci, Hofstra Email the authorMarch 16, 2011
        “The whole reason I do these talks is not only because I have a passion for coyotes, but there’s the fact that coyotes can live in close proximity to us and that has some people unnerved,” Frank Vincenti, Director of the Wild Dog Foundation, said during a presentation at the Mineola Memorial Library Saturday afternoon. “I’m trying to educate people on how to coexist with them peacefully.”

        The recently increased sightings of coyotes in urban areas have inspired Vincenti to take a proactive approach to educate people about coexisting with the animals. It is his view that Long Island is the “true” destination for coyotes.

        While the animals would not be roaming the urbanized streets of Mineola, they would most likely inhabit natural areas like those around the North Shore and Westbury.

        Vincenti believes the coyotes will travel through natural wooded areas along highways and eventually make their way onto Long Island.

        “Certainly in Queens along the Grand Central Parkway all the beautiful wooded areas right off the highway are perfect wildlife highways for coyotes,” he said. “So they could traverse all that and find their way out here.”

        While coyotes rarely conflict with humans, several attacks were reported in Rye Brook last summer, including an incident where two young girls were injured by a rabid coyote, which sparked an out lash against the remaining packs in the area.

        Vincenti assured the audience that sharing a community with coyotes is not a bad thing as the animals have been living in urban areas for decades without much conflict, dating back to 1995 when the Bronx recorded its first coyote sighting. But in his view, because of prejudice, lack of proper education and intolerance, humans are trying to limit coyotes in urban areas like Rye Brook.

        Since coyotes appear to be migrating toward Long Island, it is Vincenti’s goal to educate people through lectures so they can be prepared for these possible new neighbors. Instead of trying to eradicate coyotes from these areas, Vincenti gives his audience advice for coexistence.

        Firstly, coyotes should never be fed by humans. Normally coyotes keep to themselves, shying away from humans. Once they become used to handouts, they are “as good as dead,” Vincenti warned.

        “Coyotes are wild animals. Like any other animal, they are best kept wild.”

        Given that coyotes and dogs are similar creatures, coyotes become nervous in the presence of the domestic animals. If you come in contact while walking a pet, asserting dominance is an important factor when facing the coyote.

        “Yell at them, stomp your foot at them, maybe even throw and object towards them,” Vincenti said. “Don’t hit them, but certainly throw something towards them.”

        Marking the territory through loud noises will instill fear in the coyote and teach it to stay away.

        Studies show that coyotes are more likely to subsist in local parks, cemeteries and golf courses. At night, they are known to hunt the city streets for rodents; a benefit that any community can appreciate.

        “My only concern is to show they can exist in close proximity to humans and with minimum impact and minimum conflict as long as simple common sense things are done,” he said, “which is what I aim to tell the public.”


  7. I’m the photographer who shoot the pictures of this coyote in Queens. It was a great and very interesting experience to find a wild animal in the middle of a big city.
    I was doing a search in the internet and I found a picture of another photographer who captured with his camera in 2009 a coyote in the same cemetery.
    I don’t think it is the same coyote, but looks like it is a nice spot to be visited by this animals.
    Yesterday the NBC also published a picture of the Calvary Coyote captured for another photographer.

    If you want to see some of my pictures check my gallery:

    http://www.pbase.com/marceloli/calvary_cemetery&page=2

    Regards.

    Marcelo

  8. Rick Lieder Says:

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my Wild Light blog. Blue jays look so fine in flight.

    I just returned from a week & a half stay in Manhattan, I love visiting NYC. Made it to Queens several times, but no coyote sightings.

    I’ve spent time in Inwood Park, made some really nice wildlife images. Any coyote sightings there?

  9. NYC Edges Says:

    OWTD-
    The train line that crosses Hells Gate bridge terminates at Sunnyside Yards, about four blocks from Calvary cemetery — so that route does seem likely, but the coyote(s) still had to cross Queens Blvd. aka Boulevard of Death!!
    Interesting stuff here, thanks


    • Thanks for that bit of info, NYC Edges. Much appreciated. And I am delighted to disco er you blog – readers, check out NYCedges.blogspot.com for beautiful images of NYC nature spots, hiding in plain sight.

    • Ag Says:

      nyc edges – it’s possible for them to cross queens blvd – at night. Several years ago I saw one cross the equally wide and busy Central Ave. in Yonkers at night… and before the city admitted they were active – I saw one along the Bronx River Parkway in the Bronx. They are very smart animals. I’ve seen 4 coyotes altogether in urban/suburban settings and each one was at night… and they were moving quickly – hoping to avoid detection.


      • Fascinating! Must have been quite something to see on a busy avenue. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your observations. Let me know if you see more coyotes – or hear of them in the city.

        • Ag Says:

          It was at night so there wasn’t much traffic… but that’s what I’m saying – the coyotes know when to travel – they really are “Wiley” :) Actually I saw one a few weeks ago in New Rochelle… only a few miles from the East Bronx. It seems that they follow the coast (Long Island Sound) from Rye all the way down (this one was close to the Hutchinson River Parkway. I wouldn’t be surprised if some swam to Queens from the Southeast Bronx…. that part of the Bronx is not as busy as other parts – they could easily hide.

  10. Bill Says:

    Coyotes, more appropriately coywolves in the eastern US, are being found throughout rural, suburban, and urban settings in both Canada and the US. If there is adequate foot, water, shelter, and they can figure out a way to avoid humans for the most part they will settle in.

    No doubt they are here to stay. The question is will humans except them and learn to live with them. And, for Queens, is there enough food for long term colonization.


    • Thanks for the comment, Bill. If there isn’t enough food in Queens, perhaps the animals would start to move further east into Long Island proper. It’s all speculation at this point, but coyote/coywolf territory expansion is a pretty fascinating phenomenon.

      • Wild Dog Foundation Says:

        There are plenty of resources there for coyotes, rats, rats and more rats, consider the urban coywolf a modern rat control, you also have suprisingly large natural areas like Forest Park and Cunningham as well as Jamaica Bay and Alley Pond. Of course Long Island would offer more.
        help the Wild Dog Foundation get talks throughout Queens for the general public to better understand them, very pleased people on this blog are well informed, outwalkingthedog is a great site.
        The Wild Dog Foundation

  11. Wild Dog Foundation Says:

    The Wild Dog Foundation, a local coyote education group, having just completed it’s second Central Park lecture on NYC coyotes, has been investigating reports of coyotes in Queens since 2006 , there are several reliable reports, and while this animal may very well be a disperser, it may also have been resident for some time.For further info go to http://www.wilddog.org,
    we are grateful to outwalkingthedog mentioning our talk last year.


    • Hello, Wild Dog! So glad you visited Out Walking the Dog again, and sorry to hear I missed your talk this year. Please keep us posted on any further information about the Queens coyote. We’ll be on the look-out for coyotes in Manhattan. Cheers.

  12. Charlotte Says:

    I don’t think you can mention enough about not feeding the animals, only the people who need to read this are people like my neighbor, who continues to feed the skunks, possums, feral cats and yes, coyotes, without awareness of the harm it’s doing them.

    Love the rat graffiti!


    • Yes, so … don’t feed the animals!! In New Jersey, where the bear population has been growing in recent years, it is illegal to feed bears. Since bears like to eat bird seed, officials recommend only feeding birds from December to April, when bears are least active, and rigging the feeders to make them inaccessible to bears.


  13. Well, we have coyotes living here in Philly. I doubt if most humans here know.

    You are quite right about living with the indigenous animals in the area. The idea that animals have to die and disappear because humans show up always bothers me.

    Now, if we can get folks to plant native plants and understand why, we would be in business.


    • Thanks for commenting, Donna. What’s interesting about coyotes in this area is that they appear NOT to be indigenous. There were wolves at the time of the settlers, but coyotes were a western dog. As humans have altered the continent’s habitats and eradicated the wolf (coyote’s enemy) from many areas, coyotes have expanded their range. Like a few other species (notable homo sapiens), they adapt and thrive. Northeastern coyotes have a mix of red wolf genes in their DNA, indicating the coyotes interbred with a Canadian population of red wolves before moving south down the east coast. Pretty fascinating stuff. But indigenous or not, coyotes are here and we need to learn to live with them.

      I read once that PA may have two separate populations of coyotes, “pure” coyotes in the western part of the state (they moved gradually east from ancestral land) and the hybrids (sometimes called coywolves) that moved south after mixing with northern wolves.

  14. Barbara Says:

    Fascinating story, but perhaps coyotes never really left Manhatten but there were so very few of them, they were able to remain hidden.

    Coyotes do a great job at keeping down the rodent population – but you are right about cats and small dogs – they are tasty morsels for coyotes. My cats head for home when the two or three coyote packs start to sing in the evening or early morning around here… but we’re in the country where you expect to find them.

    Thanks for great photos and a great story as always…really enjoy your site!


    • I think we’d know if coyotes remained in Manhattan, as our green space is so limited, but maybe not if they confined themselves to the parks at the northern end. Still, I suspect there would be sightings. We cd certainly use some help keeping down the rodent population. I would welcome a rat-eater right on my street! Latest comment from Wild Dog Foundation posits that the Queens coyote may be a resident, rather than a dispersed adolescent. Interesting thought.

      • Wild Dog Foundation Says:

        coyotes themselves may be secretive and avoid being seen, but like outwalkingthedog says they leave quite a bit of sign whether it is tracks or scat or even vocalization (though difficult to hear in the city, but coyotes do hear it) the great thing about New York is most people would not even do a double take upon seeing a dog roaming the streets , so coyotes can persist longer without being noticed but now in light of last winter and unfortunate conflicts in westchester , the public is looking closer at this issue, also in agreement with what outwalkingthedog mentioned, even though we may be in a hyper urban environment, coyotes are still attracted to the natural areas , hence cemetaries, Central Park, Van Cortland ect.
        Wild Dog Foundation


  15. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Matthew Wills and Kelly Brenner, Out walking the dog. Out walking the dog said: Coyote Watch 2011: Coyote in Queens: http://wp.me/pGHnM-HP [...]

  16. mthew Says:

    Hmm, I’ve walked across the Triborough, or as they insist on call it now, the RFK Bridge, and it’s pretty inhospitable to most nearly all life-forms other than earth’s dominant one, the motor vehicle, but the Hell Gate Bridge, now there’s a fairly quiet pathway in the dead of coyote night…


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