New York's getting more diverse -- and not in the way that you think.
The recent coyote sightings in Manhattan and Queens are just the beginnings in what experts call an increasing trend of wild animals finding their way into the city.
Experts, however, say New Yorkers shouldn't panic.
"It is unusual, but they are abundant in New York State," Sarah Aucoin, director of Urban Park Rangers, said of the coyotes. "It's a matter of course that they are expanding."
On Saturday, cops captured a coyote in Battery Park City after it gave chase near the World Trade Center. This was the sixth reported coyote sighting in the city so far this year.
Mary C. Pearl, a provost at CUNY's Macaulay Honors College and a wildlife biologist, said coyotes thrive upstate and have been migrating south for years. Younger animals seeking their own space find a wealth of opportunity in the Big Apple.
"The coyotes . . . are animals that like what humans like when it comes to food," she said. "They'll search for it in garbage cans, on the streets, wherever they can find it."
Getting to the five boroughs is surprisingly easy for coyotes, according to Pat Thomas, the general curator and associate director of the Bronx Zoo.
A coyote on the subway would cause a scene, but they can slip in without much fanfare over a bridge.
"If they are out and about late at night, sometimes they can be mistaken for dogs," he said.
And coyotes aren't the only ones moving in. For years, species such as snowy owls, red-tailed hawks, chipmunks and flying squirrels have thrived in the Big Apple.
Bald eagles built their first New York City nest in a century off the coast of Staten Island in January, the Audubon Society said.
Most of the animals turn up in major green spaces, such as Central Park or the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, but once in a while they find their way out onto the pavement.
"You'd be amazed what comes out at night," Pearl said. "You can put on goggles and see all sorts of animals. It's really amazing to see."
The animals are, of course, putting themselves in danger on the streets. But Thomas applauded the city's work to round them up and free them in the appropriate places. This weekend's captured coyote, like its predecessors, was taken to Animal Care & Control on East 110th Street. It is set to be released in a wilderness area.
An increase in parkland and other open spaces will exacerbate the trend, experts agreed.
But, again, don't worry.
Aucoin said the animals, even the coyotes, rarely hurt anyone.
"Most of the animals that are doing well are animals that are opportunistic," she said. "They live very well in proximity to humans."