Posted tagged ‘NYC coyotes’

Another NYC Borough Falls to the Coyote

April 6, 2012

A coyote has been spotted in Staten Island.

Photo by Nick Mirto. Click image to visit SILive.com

New Jerseyan Nick Mirto saw the coyote in Staten Island’s Freshkills landfill on a recent run to dump a load of soil. Luckily for us, he pulled out his trusty iPhone and snapped the above photo. On previous trips, Mirto has seen herds of white-tailed deer and two red foxes at the site.

How did the coyote get to Staten Island? Well, deer swim across the Arthur Kill from New Jersey, as you can unmistakeably see in this video, taken by a boat captain: Two Deer Swimming To Staten Island.  Like deer, coyotes are strong swimmers, and they certainly inhabit New Jersey.  You can see in the map below that it’s not terribly far.

Juvenile coyotes often disperse at this time of year, kicked out by parents who are preparing to raise a new litter.  Most of the coyotes that have shown up in Manhattan over the past decade or so have been juveniles between one and two years of age. My guess is that the Staten Island coyote, too, is a young animal in search of new territory to call its own.

According to a CUNY Brooklyn website, “The Fresh Kills Landfill covers 2200 acres, can be seen with the naked eye from space and is taller then the Statue of Liberty, at a height of 225 ft.”  That’s a mighty big area for a coyote, full of prey. If you can ignore the fact that the landfill is stuffed with toxins, it would seem to be a pretty happy hunting ground for a coyote.

On other New York coyote news, Science Friday just posted a lovely video of the on-going studies being conducted by wildlife biologist Mark Weckel. Studying Coyotes in NYC.  The video reveals that a camera trap photo below, which I had guessed was taken in Van Cortland Park, was actually taken in Yonkers.

Camera Trap Photo: Mark Weckel. Click image to visit Science Friday.

As I’ve been saying for a couple of years now, coyotes are coming, people. In fact, they’re here.

NYC Coyote Round-up: Walking the Talk, Talking the Walk

March 24, 2012

Ever since 2010, when I came face to face with a young female coyote in Central Park, I’ve had coyotes on the brain. As my regular readers know, I’m fascinated by (some might say, obsessed with) the urban coyote phenomenon and bowled over by the extraordinary story of migration as these highly adaptable wild dogs have spread out of their native home in the Great Plains, across the continent and into every imaginable habitat, including our suburbs and cities.

Coyotes in an unidentified NYC park. Photo: Mark Weckel. Click image to go to New York Times Green Blog.

Another winter has come and gone with no new coyote sightings in Manhattan. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going about their business nearby.  For years, coyotes have been quietly living and breeding in the Bronx (where I suspect the photo above was taken). Recent coyote sightings in Queens induced the usual breathless, frothing-at-the-mouth coverage by local media.

A coyote in Queens, nicknamed Frank by researchers, photographed by a trail camera. Click image to go to article by Mark Weckel and Chris Nagy.

Today I have five happy bits of New York City coyote news:

1. A recent article by  Sindya N. Bhanoo in the New York Times Green Blog looked at New York’s urban coyotes with refreshing calm and genuine curiosity. Bhanoo uses well-chosen quotes – from a researcher, the head of the urban park rangers and even a high school student involved in a coyote study – to educate readers about urban coyotes, reassuring the frightened (simply seeing a coyote is not cause for alarm), cautioning the foolish and/or sentimental (don’t feed, don’t approach, etc.), and even pointing out the possible benefits of having a top predator in the hood (rodent and deer control).

2. Today, Proteus Gowanus, Brooklyn’s interdisciplinary art gallery and reading room, was the starting point for a coyote walk.

Led by artist Dillon de Give, the walk was intended not to look for coyotes, but as a way to imagine how a coyote might travel through Brooklyn. Sticking to green spaces whenever possible, Dillon led walkers into  Manhattan and north to Hallett Nature Sanctuary at the south end of Central Park. Hallett, a one-acre area that is off-limit to both dogs and humans, was used as a resting spot Manhattan’s coyote visitors in 2006 and 2010.

3. Next weekend, de Give will embark on his annual Lah walk.

Image by Dillon de Give. Click image to visit Dillon’s website.

According to Dillon’s website:

“Lah” is an annual project that commemorates the spirit of Hal, a coyote who appeared in Central Park in 2006 and died shortly after being captured by authorities.

Lah illustrates how a coyote might find its way into Manhattan with a reverse human journey out of the city: a hike retracing a potential coyote-like path through greenspaces. Citing examples of juvenile coyotes that have made long dispersal trips, the walk averages around 50-60 miles.

The walk has been performed solo, in a group, and in a pair.

In 2010, I joined Dillon and his fellow Lah walkers on the first leg of their journey from Hallett to the north end of Central Park, leaving them at Frederick Douglass Circle to continue their way north for several days.

4. On Saturday afternoon, March 31st, Frank Vincenti, Director of The Wild Dog Foundation, will lead a Coyote Lecture in Forest Park in Queens. Frank is a passionate advocate for co-existing with coyotes, and will be talking about coyote natural history. I’m guessing he will also talk about the growing population of NYC coyotes, and the latest DNA research showing that many Eastern coyotes carry wolf genes, acquired during their long migration by inter-breeding with a remnant population of Red wolves. For more information, visit the NYC Parks Department or call (718) 846-2731.

5. And last, an invitation for NYC readers to join me for a staged reading of my hot-off-the-presses new play:

New York City Coyote Existential
(a short play with science & songs)

Apologies for the blurry screen shot. Some day, I’ll learn to scan.

This is a bare bones reading in a small gallery space at Proteus Gowanus. It will feature the wonderful actress Mary Shultz as The Coyote with music by Thomas Cabaniss. Please be aware that seating is very limited, and is first come, first served.

Check back soon for updates on New York’s coyote news.

NYC Coyote Watch 2011: Coyote in Queens

January 24, 2011

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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