Coyotes Are Moving Into New York City
Wildlife experts said New Yorkers might as well get accustomed to seeing more coyotes after two of the animals were spotted recently in Manhattan.
A coyote gave New York City police officers the slip Wednesday in Riverside Park near the site of Grant’s Tomb. Last week, another coyote was captured in Chelsea.
As the animals continue breeding in the woodland areas of the Bronx, younger coyotes are forced to stake out their own territories to the south, wildlife experts said.
“I do believe it will become a more frequent part of our spring and late fall to see them in Manhattan,” said Mark Weckel, a conservation biologist at the American Museum of Natural History and co-founder of the Gotham Coyote Project, which studies coyotes in New York City.
In addition to the two recently spotted in Manhattan, coyotes have been seen in New Jersey’s Bergen County: One person was bitten in Norwood and another in Saddle River.
Coyotes are common in suburban areas like Norwood, and are found in every county in the state, said Lawrence Hajna, a spokesman for New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
“They are a very adaptable creature,” Mr. Hajna said.
The animals have been in the state since at least 1939, he said.
Coyotes were first spotted in New York state in the 1920s, Mr. Weckel said. In the 1940s, coyotes entered the state from its northern border, and during the 1960s, they started coming from the west, he said.
Coyotes made it to Westchester County by the 1970s, and Mr. Weckel said they were first verified in the Bronx during the 1990s.
Coyotes have been known to breed in parks in the Bronx, but there has been no confirmed breeding in other parts of the city or on Long Island, Mr. Weckel said.
Coyotes feed on rodents, deer, rabbits and fruit.
“When the young become mature, they are basically pushed out of their territory” by their parents, said Joe Pane, principal fish and wildlife biologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
As coyotes run out of available territories in the wooded areas of Westchester County and the Bronx, many travel along the Hudson River or even down the tracks of the Metro-North Railroad in search of their own territory in Manhattan.
“It’s been confirmed there are breeding pairs in a number of [Bronx] parks and that’s consistent with this theory that this population of coyotes really have been expanding in New York state and moving southward since like the 1930s,” said Sarah Aucoin, director of the Urban Park Rangers with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
“New York [City] is at the southern end of New York state, so it sort of makes sense they would be last to arrive here in the state,” she said.
Coyotes have grown adept at surviving in other big-city environments, such as Chicago.
In 2006, there were an estimated 2,000 coyotes living in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, according to Stanley Gehrt, associate professor at the Ohio State University’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, who has been studying coyotes around the Chicago area for 15 years.
That number is higher now, he says.
“Once they got established in the nooks and crannies of the metro area, they responded quickly to available food and water and the relative safety in the city,” Mr. Gehrt said.
New York state and New York City don’t have population estimates for coyotes.