Amid coyotes, New York City hearing call of wild
Hal the Coyote was captured on the Upper East Side in 2006.
In the end, she just wasn’t wily enough. But the “TriBeCa Coyote” caught by police Thursday is only the latest wild animal to stake a claim to Manhattan real estate.
New Yorkers had better get used to the idea of their city becoming a literal concrete jungle.
In recent years, Gotham has welcomed peregrine falcons, the red-tailed hawk, the white-tailed deer and even the long-gone beaver, emblazoned on the city seal and a key part of its early economy.
“People are very moved by it,” said Marie Winn, author of “Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife.” “Wildlife in the concrete jungle reminds us that we are a part of nature no matter where we are.”
The resurgence is helped by environmental laws, bans on pesticides, rehabbed parks and plenty of animal-friendly city trash, experts said.
In the most recent case, the year-old female coyote led police on a two-day chase through TriBeCa, but was captured Thursday in a parking lot. She was shot with a tranquilizer dart and taken to animal control in East Harlem, police said.
Where she goes next is unknown, but this week’s episode marks one of several coyote sightings this year.
“I take heart when I hear that coyotes are surviving,” said Scott Silver, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo. “This is a large testimony to their ability to adapt.”
Coyotes are thriving thanks to the near-eradication of their predator, the wolf. They're no strangers to metropolises, and several roam freely around Los Angeles. But with their numbers expanding in the New York’s suburbs, some of the four-legged furballs are moving south.
“Coyotes are like people. You’re born, you live with your parents, and when you’re grown, you move away,” said Stephen Zawistowski, executive vice president of the ASPCA.
Centuries ago, when New York’s landscape was covered with trees rather than skyscrapers, a diverse cross-section of animals called Gotham home. The city was stomping grounds for wolves, mountain lions, bears and wild turkeys. In waterways, sturgeon and shad thrived.
New York’s unique geographic position between northern and southern climates and under the Atlantic Flyway bird route invited a range of critters, said Margaret Mittelbach, of the Secret Science Club lecture series.
But while some wildlife have rebounded, the city will hardly be the dense forest of yore.
“For every species that is more abundant today than it was 30 years ago, there are two that are in declining numbers,” said Glenn Phillips, executive director of the Audubon Society’s New York City chapter. "That’s the sad news."
Julia Borovskaya contributed to this story.