Queens Coyotes Expand NYC Range

Coyotes have taken up residence in another New York City borough.  They’ve long been living in the wilds of the Bronx.  Now continued coyote sightings and encounters confirm that at least one animal, and possibly several, are living near the Locust Manor Long Island Railroad station in Jamaica, Queens. The local media is playing up the situation (‘Coyotes Terrorizing Residents Near LIRR Station’) as if a pack of fire-breathing, man-eating dragons had moved into the patch of woods by the train tracks.

Residents of the Locust Manor neighborhood are scared, which is certainly understandable, particularly given the lack of reliable information about urban coyotes.  One woman tells a reporter that she turned around and “it was on me,” a statement the reporter does nothing to clarify. Does the woman mean that the coyote attacked her or that it simply and suddenly appeared? Clearly not the former, or the reporter would have had an even bigger field day.

I started to wonder about the ongoing presence of coyotes in Queens when a post I wrote last January, NYC Coyote Watch 2011: Coyote in Queens, suddenly began receiving a large number of hits from people seeking information on coyotes in Queens.  In February, a reader wrote in to say that a friend of his had spotted a coyote in Flushing Cemetery. In April, another reader wrote worriedly of a disturbing encounter in Jamaica, near the LIRR tracks. Frank Vincent of  The Wild Dog Foundation wrote back, offering to speak to the community about the issue. And yesterday, a reader wrote about her family’s encounters with the Locust Manor coyote.

In the wake of the news report, the city sent a park ranger to investigate the situation.  My hope is that the city and the community will take an active role in educating residents about co-existing with wildlife. Many communities in New York and around the country are bringing in wildlife experts to talk to their citizens, defuse hysteria, answer questions, and offer suggestions and perspective. Informative websites are Project Coyote, based in California, and Chicago’s Urban Coyote Research Project.

The Locust Manor coyotes are certainly not the first wild coyotes in Queens. The animals appear to be spreading throughout the borough. Almost a year ago, a beautiful reddish coyote was spotted in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, not far from Long Island City. Calvary Cemetery is in Zone Two in the NYC map below, while Locust Manor, Jamaica, is in Zone Twelve, and Flushing is in Zone Seven. I think they’ve got the borough covered.

New York neighborhoods

When coyotes are spotted in such disparate areas, odds are pretty good that they’re living unnoticed, or unreported, in other areas as well.

This is big wildlife news for New York City, as well as for Long Island. For years, New York State wildlife experts have maintained that coyotes are resident throughout the state with the exception of Long Island. But Queens is on Long Island, so that statement clearly needs a little updating.

Today, Queens. Tomorrow, the Hamptons.  Oh, and Brooklynites, you’d better keep your eyes open.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2011, coyotes, December, In the City, Seasons, Wildlife/Natural History, Winter

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19 Comments on “Queens Coyotes Expand NYC Range”

  1. gmtroise@yahoo.com Says:

    If any of them make it to Forest Park, they can easily slip into Brooklyn from there. What I’m wondering however is how they got to Queens. (I know the ones in Manhattan came thru the tunnels, and the Bronx of course is part of the New Your mainland).

    • Andre Says:

      It’s actually easier for them to swim from the Bronx to Manhattan and Queens than to use roads. Canines are good swimmers.

  2. […] at night, they’ll find their way over a bridge into Manhattan. Others have found their way east into Queens. From Queens, where are you going to go but east, young dog, to colonize Long Island. And, in fact, […]

  3. […] 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. […]

  4. Bee Says:

    It is unfortuante to how humans are NOT HUMANE to wildlife let alone to domesticated animals.. These animals should be protected . OMG Coyotees,Wolves (wolf-dogs).,Bears Oh my. Does it mean that the authorities are going to kill them?
    I pray that these animals are not going to be killed or harrassed by the a holes in the neighborhood.
    Where are they all going to be placed in a zoo, a sanctuary ?

  5. Barbara Says:

    As a country girl at heart, I’ve never quite understood the panic over coyotes in a city or even in the country – many farmers up here go on killing rampages to “clean out” the coyote population rather than letting mother Nature take her course – not enough food=coyote control, they don’t breed, or they don’t get enough food and die off… and the natural food, small rodents, mice, rats, moles, and insects as you mention Melissa, are enough for these lovely critters.

    I’m a big advocate of donkeys and llamas to protect sheep and cattle – they hate coyotes and keep them at bay – but for humans? I wonder if they would consider a pair of donkeys near the railway to protect the wary and scared humans.

    As a former journalist I get very cross with today’s media – there is no responsible reporting, no research done, it’s all about whipping the public up to a frenzy as far as I can see, whether there is any truth in a story or not…

    So good luck with the coyotes in NYC and all it’s ‘burbs – they likely are very happily ensconced in the Hamptons, but able to be their normal secretive selves.

    Great post Melissa – please keep us all informed.

    • Andre Says:

      Yeah – my mother lives 30 miles north of the city and there have been coyotes around there ever since she moved there. There are also bobcats and even once a black bear had to be tranquilized and relocated. The coyotes for the most part don’t both anyone. There have been two cases where they did have to kill a coyote – but it’s not the norm. Usually you will never know a coyote is around until you start hearing all the dogs in the area getting excited (most people have big dogs that live outside in the yard). That usually alerts you the coyote is in the area (it’s too dark to see them)… and it usually means the coyote will be minding it’s business.

      • Very interesting, Andre. Thanks so much for the tales of big predators not far at all from the city. It’s an interesting time, as they are trying to adapt to living close to human habitation. Some of the animals – coyotes, certainly – seem to be doing a great job, but the humans – not so much. I certainly understand people’s fear of predators, particularly with children and pets. But the world is changing around us, mostly because of us, our awareness is changing, and it’s time to figure out how to accept the presence of the wildlife we’ve spent centuries trying to eradicate.

  6. Charlotte Says:

    Please pass on to your readers: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/31/local/la-me-coyotes-20111031.

    This article is about learning to live with coyotes and how we must, given how we’ve encroached upon them.

    In California it’s not coyotes expanding into our range, it’s us taking over their territory. But maybe the same applies to coyotes in Long Island, who knows? Coyotes have a way of staying undetected until they can’t anymore.

    Mary Paglieri, who practices human-animal conflict resolution, “sustaining a healthy coexistence between humans and animals” (you can find her at: http://www.littlebluesociety.org/) wrote to me about the coyote that had been visiting my neighbor for handouts and could be seen sitting among the skunks and cats, not doing anything. Here’s what she had to say:

    “The fact that [the coyote] didn’t attack and consume the cat or skunks gave evidence his belly was full, and he is finding plentiful prey elsewhere. It proves that they are not just mindless killing-machines, as some people would have you believe. They only take what is needed and never more.”

    Great post!

    • Great references and info, Charlotte. Thanks. Coyotes are definitely not native to Long Island. But then neither are we – or our kitty cats. We’re responsible for the environmental changes that are leading coyotes to colonize the east coast.

      Mary Paglieri is a great resource.

      • Ag Says:

        I was just watching “Dutch New York” the other day on PBS… and the Dutch noted that when they arrived on Manhattan island (and I’m sure Long Island) – the native people were there… but so were bears – cougars – and wolves. Hard to imagine right?

  7. More raccoon hysterics in Brooklyn, and Staten Island, than the other boroughs for some reason. Not just about rabies. Vandalism!

    • Raccoons are extraordinary vandals, indeed. I once watched one on Cape Cod knock over a huge heavy trash can and proceed to lug it by the tightly-secured bungee cord across a clearing towards the woods. Luckily when it reached the woods, the can wouldn’t budge across the underbrush. We were watching from a raised nearby deck, laughing in amazement.

  8. mthew: I expect the same hysteria. Look at the overreaction we get just for raccoons. (Though 30 pounds for some of our raccoons would not be out of the question!)

    • Manhattan’s raccoon population took a huge hit from the rabies epidemic, and seems to be back to a more reasonable size. I still see them in the parks, and my son saw one on the street near Riverside park recently. But back in 2008-9, when I first moved into my lower-Morningside Heights area, I saw them several times in trees outside my apartment building (a good block and a half from the park AND across Riverside Drive and Broadway!), and foraging through trash piles.

      You’re right, they can get BIG. I’m still amazed we didn;t have more hysteria during the height of the rabies sweep. The city managed it all quietly and well, I think.

  9. mthew Says:

    Exciting news to wake up to. Sorry to hear that ignorance continues, fanned by idiot media. I like to think we’re ready in Brooklyn (with plenty of feral cats for food), but I know there will be a hue and a cry when they first appear. It’s inevitable that they will. May already be here, of course, considering the cemeteries that edge the borough borders. That old movie Wolfen was wrong. It should have been called Coyoten.

    • Wolfen! Of course I remember Wolfen. From what I remember of the movie, you’re exactly right that its premise fits the popular fear of coyotes – predators in our midst with an ability to “already be here,” as you say, and to go undetected… Not to mention the way they like to take up residence in graveyards. Home sick today, maybe I’ll take a look at Wolfen …

  10. Exciting developments. I won’t expect to see coyotes in Prospect Park anytime soon, but Jamaica Bay and other coastal areas are prime expansion territory.

    Might coyotes have an impact on deer populations on Long Island?

    • Thanks for stopping by, Flatbush Gardener. It is fascinating, isn’t it? An excellent question about the deer on Long Island. Western coyotes apparently don’t do much deer killing, other than feeding on very young fawns. They only weigh around 30 pounds, and are usually solitary hunters. But coyote researchers are finding that some Eastern coyotes, many of which have some wolf genes, are larger and can bring down deer. (Some researchers insist that Eastern coyotes are really hybrids now and should be called “coywolves.”) Still their usual food is small animals – rodents and anything else they can get, including insects. The coyote in Central Park in winter 2010 weighed only around 30 pounds. Long Island is certainly over-run with deer, and there are no other predators left on L.I. (oh, other than humans), so who knows? But first, the coyotes have to establish themselves on the island. I’ll be following it all with great interest!

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