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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.2011, Central Park, coyotes, In the City, January, NYC Parks, Wildlife/Natural History, Winter comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.