By Terri Estes
Yes, coyotes are here! Maybe not in the Rockaways (yet), but there have been numerous sightings in the New York City area over the last three years. While most of the NYC coyote population is in the Bronx, lately they have been branching into other boroughs like Queens, Staten Island, and have even been spotted in Central Park in Manhattan.
Coyotes are about the same size as a medium-sized dog and are sometimes mistaken for them. One way of distinguishing between a coyote and a dog is by looking for the black tip on the end of the tail, which most coyotes have. Their coats are usually a mixture of grey, tan and black, but can range from black to strawberry blond.
Coyotes like to be out and about, exploring their areas and searching for their next meal. They can travel up to 10 miles a day and are also excellent swimmers. They prefer to eat prey like mice, rats, squirrels and rabbits, but that said, they are not picky eaters. They will expand their diet to include plants, berries and insects and will eat any pet food left outside including bird seed from bird feeders. They will take advantage of any savory smelling trash too.
Coyotes usually mate for life. The peak mating season is in late winter with pups arriving in early spring. These pups will stay with their parents for approximately nine months while their parents teach them how to hunt and survive. After that, they will begin to venture out on their own.
Known for their adaptability and ability to thrive in a variety of environments, coyotes are considered highly intelligent animals. They are cunning and resourceful hunters and exhibit complex behaviors in their social structures and interactions. They are known for their problem-solving skills and are excellent at learning from their experiences. This intelligence has contributed to their ability to survive and thrive in a wide range of conditions.
Their intelligence and adaptability can sometimes lead to challenges when they come into contact with human activities, such as scavenging for food in urban areas, or preying on livestock. It is important for people to understand and respect the behavior of coyotes, and to take appropriate measures to coexist with them. It may take an effort, but we should try and minimize conflicts with this extraordinary animal and live in harmony with them.
The coyote has not been spotted in Rockaway – yet. But there have been sightings in Nassau County and Suffolk County over the last two years, and it is just a matter of time until they migrate our way. Let’s look on the bright side and hope that when they do arrive on our peninsula, they make a dent in our vermin population.