(COYOTES/ANIMAL NEWS) New York’s suburbs are witnessing a surge in Eastern coyote populations this year, leading to an increase in dead and/or missing pets. While homeowners are seeking out animal control officers and private animal trappers to capture and euthanize nuisance coyotes, naturalists claim the coyotes are a beneficial part of the ecosystem and have a “permanent presence” in New York.

With an estimated 14,500 breeding pairs of coyotes throughout the state, wildlife officials believe any effort to transfer or reduce the population would be ineffective and that residents simply need to adapt. Continue reading to learn more about how coyotes are dividing New York suburbs. — Global Animal

Jim Horton, a licensed animal trapper in Westchester County, with a foothold he uses on coyotes. Photo Credit: Andrew Sullivan for The New York Times
Jim Horton, a licensed animal trapper in Westchester County, holds a foothold he uses to capture coyotes. Photo Credit: Andrew Sullivan, New York Times

New York Times, Lisa W. Foderaro

Periodically, it seems, an animal species arises to wreak havoc on the best laid plans of human beings. In years past, deer have eaten every hosta and tulip in sight, wild turkeys have chased homeowners off their lawns, bears have ripped apart bird feeders like tin cans.

This year, it is the coyote.

In New York City, where Eastern coyotes are having a breakout year, a glimpse of one of the animals is still rare enough to elicit curious amazement. But in the suburbs, the feeling is different.

A coyote chasing a local resident's pet shepherd mix, before she closed the door on the animal seconds after her dog made it safely into the house. Photo Credit: Karen Hart
A coyote chasing a local resident’s pet shepherd mix, before she closed the door on the animal seconds after her dog made it safely into the house. Photo Credit: Karen Hart

In New Castle, N.Y., residents are warring over what to do about the animals, which attacked and killed a number of small dogs in the town this past year. In Saddle River, N.J., a man was bitten by a rabid coyote in April as he worked in his yard. And in Stamford, Conn., dozens of cats have gone missing, and coyotes have started attacking larger dogs, even German shepherds and golden retrievers.

“Ten years ago, it was rare to see coyotes, but they have really exploded on the scene here,” said Capt. Richard Conkin of the Stamford Police Department.

He said that starting in March, the animals seemed to become more aggressive. One resident had to fight a “small, scrappy coyote” off with a snow shovel. Another watched as the same coyote chased her shepherd mix to her front door, which she slammed on the animal seconds after her dog made it safely into the house.

Particularly vulnerable are dogs and cats whose owners have installed invisible electric fences, designed to keep the animals from wandering. They trap the pets in while allowing predators unfettered access to the yard.

Michael Dresner remembers the morning in spring 2013 when his family’s dog disappeared. Ruby, a miniature goldendoodle, was in the front yard of their Chappaqua, N.Y., home at 10 a.m. on a Sunday, kept in by an invisible fence.

“My wife Jill heard a screeching noise, and we went outside and couldn’t find Ruby,” he remembered. They searched for hours but never found the dog, whom they believe was killed by a coyote. “Our suspicion is that she was attacked on our front porch and dragged off,” he said.

“We chose to move up here because it’s wooded and not as densely populated as the city,” said Mr. Dresner, who relocated from the Upper West Side of Manhattan. “The concept of living in the country is that you can let your dog outside. But we didn’t expect we would live in an area with animals as violent as coyotes.”

While trying to regulate coyote and wolf populations, Wildlife Services mistakenly killed 50,000 other species of animals. Photo Credit: Biology_2380 via Flickr
While trying to regulate coyote and wolf populations, wildlife services once mistakenly killed 50,000 other species of animals. Photo Credit: Biology_2380 via Flickr

Coyotes, which as long as 75 years ago moved into the eastern United States from the West, are viewed by naturalists as a beneficial part of the ecosystem, because they keep rodents in check. They have been sighted in all 21 counties of New Jersey and every town in Connecticut.

They are now so well established — New York State has an estimated 14,500 breeding pairs — that any effort to reduce the population would be fruitless, officials say.

“They are an intelligent animal and quickly learn how to survive in their environment, whether that’s the Bronx or Clinton County,” said Gordon R. Batcheller, the chief wildlife biologist for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “They are a permanent presence in New York.”

Tips for peaceful coexistence with coyotes include keeping dogs on leashes, feeding pets only indoors, hazing coyotes (shouting, waving one’s harms) to prevent their comfort with humans and reporting any bold or aggressive behavior.

Continue reading the full New York Times article, here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/nyregion/coyotes-create-dangers-and-divisions-in-new-york-suburbs.html

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