Monday, May 10, 2010

Coyotes in New York City

It took a long time, but a number of critters have learned that living in humanity’s cities is a viable option.  To start with both on the farm and in the city, armed farm boys are pretty well thin on the ground these days.  For most of these critters, urban conditions are safe once they become comfortable in dealing with vehicles.

The presence is largely not a problem because they all avoid us and stay out of sight during the daytime.  We barely know that they are there until a family of raccoons raids the back yard at five in the morning.

They obviously use the parks and right of ways to provide dens to stay during the day and spread out to search for food during the night.

It is no longer a wise option to leave pets unprotected in back yards, but then is never was.

My one concern over the expansion of wild populations is that deer in particular have made a huge recovery in the rural environment.  In time their hunters will make an equally impressive recovery.  That means something a lot more dangerous than a coyote.

Even the coyote is extremely dangerous to an unattended child playing in a back yard.  Fortunately they are denned during the times we are exposed.  And the coyotes may also be very wary of disturbing us.

It also should ne noted that the presence of a coyote is confirmation of a substantial prey population that we are simply not seeing.  Most of us know enough to protect pets so that is not the food supply.

Coyotes in New York City Lead Surge in Urban Wildlife
By Brett Israel, LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 07 May 2010 01:45 pm ET

A spike in urban wildlife in New York City is complicating pest control and creating a public health risk not normally faced by city-slickers, a wildlife expert says.

Already this year, six wild coyotes have been spotted across Manhattan, a significant increase according to The Wildlife Damage Management Program at Cornell University. Scientists have also noted a surge in raccoon, deer and Canada geese populations. Researchers say that geese and deer populations have been building over the past decade, but the spike in urban coyotes in Manhattan is a relatively recent occurrence.

A spike in urban wildlife such as coyotes poses a serious public health concern because they can transmit rabies, said Paul Curtis, an urban wildlife expert at Cornell University.

"People really don’t expect to see coyotes in Manhattan," Curtis told LiveScience. "But coyotes have been in Central Park several times before, and they will be again."

There are many ways for wildlife to commute into Manhattan, said Curtis. The most common is for the coyotes in Westchester County, N.Y. — about 40 miles (65 kilometers) to the north of the city — to follow natural travel corridors such as power lines, train tracks, or greenways into New York City.

Birds are among the most adaptable urban creatures. Migrating sonbirds love New York parks. Canada geese are so prevalent — a flock of them forced the river landing of US Airways flight 1549 last year — that city officials slaughter geese routinely around the major airports.

Urban wildlife are not confined to Manhattan either. Curtis said coyotes will roam up to 70 miles from home, and they have been spotted in Brooklyn and Queens as well.

The recent spike in coyotes has prompted the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to begin working on a new policy to handle urban wildlife.

Curtis will discuss New York City’s urban wildlife boom, the human-wildlife conflict, and what urban areas can do to control the problem on Tuesday, May 18 at Cornell’s ILR Conference Center in New York City

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