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Wil(d)e E Coyote Seen at City Hall

Wile e coyote MyRye

Thanks to MyRye.com reader Tim Kirby of Orchard Lane, who sent us this report of a coyote encounter at Rye City Hall:

"While recent coyote encounters in Rye have been well publicized, I was surprised to come up against one last night [Monday, June 7, 2010] in the parking lot between the Rye Free Reading room and Lesters.

While walking my 24 lb dog at 9pm last night, we came upon a coyote in the back of the parking lot next to the brook.  I looked up and there he was just 10 or 15 yards away walking right towards us.  I started walking backwards with my leashed dog towards the Boston Post Road and the coyote kept following us at a distance of about 10 yards.  Even upon reaching the sidewalk, he showed no fear and kept following us.  I picked up my dog and eventually the coyote crossed the BPR and disappeared.

I am confident the RPD is doing all they can to deal with the problem. But, I wanted to make sure others in the area know how close they are to town and the library lawn where many people and animals congregate in the evening.  Most surprising of all to me was that the animal showed no fear of humans or the cars passing by on the BPR."

Rye has posted a "coyote fact sheet" that states:

Residents of Rye take great pride in the natural endowments of our community: one-fifth of the City’s land is dedicated to recreation and conservation. It is important to remember that we share these areas with the animals that inhabit them; a variety of animals are found within our community, including deer, fox, rabbits, raccoons, and coyotes.

Coyotes are hunters, and primarily feed on rodents, insects, and small animals, including rabbits, squirrels, and small deer. They are normally timid around humans, but some coyotes in suburban areas have lost their fear of people, which can be dangerous. It is important to act aggressively to maintain that natural fear.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:

If you encounter a coyote, be aggressive. Loud noises and forceful behavior will normally scare the animal away. Wave your arms and throw sticks or stones.

  • Do not feed coyotes.
  • Do not provide food sources that may attract them, such as outdoor pet food or bird seed. They may be attracted by the birds and rodents drawn to bird feeders.
  • Make garbage inaccessible.
  • Do not allow pets to run free. Coyotes can see cats or small dogs as prey (coyotes’ average weight is 35 pounds; they will usually yield their territory to mid-sized or larger dogs). Conflicts are most frequent in March and April, when coyotes are establishing their dens.
  • Small children should be supervised by an adult while outdoors.

Coyote attacks on humans can happen, although they are rare (for example, in an average year in New York State, 650 people are hospitalized and one killed in dog attacks, vs. a handful of coyote attacks nationwide). The mere presence of coyotes in our community is part of the ecology of the area, and not dangerous in itself; however, the animals’ behavior should be monitored to ensure that they are not acting dangerously or aggressively, or exhibiting a lack of fear.

Unusual coyote behavior should be reported to the City of Rye Police Department at (914) 967-1234 so sightings can be recorded and officers dispatched if necessary. Attacks or emergency situations should be reported via 911.

Additional information on coyotes can be found on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website.

9 COMMENTS

  1. The police can’t really do anything but track sightings and try to educate the public on what to do if you see one (make loud noises, show agression, throw sticks and stones). Understandably, Tim Kirby opted for retreat, which unfortunately will teach the coyote that humans are willing to back down. (According to Wikipedia, they seem to be better than dogs at observational learning.)
    As a parent of a 2 year old, I’m in favor of a bounty on coyote pelts. A pet in Rye has already been killed by one – will we have to wait until a small child is attacked, perhaps killed, before we acknowledge that these animals are undesirable to have in our midst?

    From Wikipedia:

    Due to an absence of harassment by residents, urban coyotes lose their natural fear of humans, which is further worsened by people intentionally feeding coyotes. In such situations, some coyotes have begun to act aggressively toward humans, chasing joggers and bicyclists, confronting people walking their dogs, and stalking small children. Like wolves, non-rabid coyotes usually target small children, mostly under the age of 10, though some adults have been bitten.

    To paraphrase a recent political catchprhase: Shoot, baby, shoot! Here’s to hoping that a coyote coat is THE fashion statement next winter!

  2. Matt – I hope we never shoot anything in Rye, ever.
    The problem with shooting any living creature is that it is not done for sensible reasons – it’s done by people, male people, who enjoy killing.
    I grew up where hunting is popular and every Fall I had to endure the sight of beautiful deer – their eyes wide open even in death – laying bloody across car hoods – while the proud driver took the scenic route home.
    It was primal, gross and quite disturbing.
    I walk late at night most nights and I frequently encounter this coyote. He doesn’t approach me. He’s looking for rabbits, which are all over southern Midland Avenue in the Spring.
    He is smallish and quite lean.
    Yes he is a danger to small dogs and cats as he is a wild animal, but a small dog leashed in the company of an adult would not be in danger.
    And, Matt, your two year old with his alpha daddy would be fine.

  3. Charmian –

    Now please don’t be sexist – plenty of women enjoy hunting just as much as men do. Just ask Sarah Palin, first female governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential candidate in 2008. She’d even field strip her kill.

    Thankfully, our police department is willing to “dispatch” animals when the need arises, and they don’t do it for the enjoyment of killing. They do it so rabid animals don’t bite and infect us, the humans, with a horrific viral infection.
    Similarly, I’d want them to remove threats to the safety of us and our children. I don’t want to endure the sight of a beautiful child – his eyes wide open even in death – laying bloody on the ground – while the sated coyote saunters off to its den. Talk about primal, gross and quite disturbing!
    And if the coyote has a right to live in peace, what about the lowly rabbit? Don’t our little lapine friends have a similar right to exist in peace, unmolested by a larger, better equipped hunter?

    In all seriousness, a 2, 3, or 4 year old could easily mistake a coyote for a dog and go to pet it while the parent may be distracted or otherwise engaged. Coyotes are notorious for using a number of different techniques to get their kill, the silly cartoon notwithstanding.

  4. So Mr. Fahey you want the police to shoot the coyotes. Almost every year you read about (not in Rye)a person or someone’s pet that “accidently” gets shot by hunters during the hunting season. Just say God Forbid your two year old is walking in a park without you holding his hand and there is a coyote and someone tries to pellet the coyote but shoots accidently your child. Then what? Someone’s german shepard will get mistaken for a coyote, someone will get hurt and probably not the coyote. I have a dog. I walk my dog on a leash (it is called the leash law). I am sorry for any dog that gets attacked by a coyote but that usually happens when the owner is too lazy to walk the dog and the dog is alone without the benefit of its master. I don’t know what to do about the coyotes but shooting them is not a safe thing to do. Someone or something will get hurt and it probably won’t be the coyote.

  5. Honest Citizen –

    I have full faith in the ability of our police to take out a few coyote effectively and safely, without hitting a person, or mistaking a pet with a wild animal. They’re pretty darn good with their guns, truth be told. But perhaps shooting the vermin in the open isn’t the best way to eradicate the risk. Traps may be a more effective and safe mechanism to first capture the coyotes – and they can then be put down later in a way that guarantees no risk of accidental injuries to any humans.

    Another option would be to take them several hundred miles away and release them, though this would cost far more and simply shift the problem elsewhere.

    But to simply ignore them and not deal with the problem now is to invite the fates to intercede with a tragedy of a young life cut short unnecessarily. These feral critters are opportunistic when it comes to food, and if the chance were to present itself, they would look at a small child the same way a gourmand would consider a filet mignon with bearnaise sauce for dinner – with delight and anticipation, and not one ounce of regret once the meal was finished.

    And I’ll also point out that sometimes, people take matters into their own hands anyway and look to remove those problems that society decides to ignore. This environmental vigilantism can take the form of some EarthFirst! whack jobs burning down private property, or more closer to home, hunters taking out that other four-legged pest, deer. And those individuals probably don’t possess the same training as the police in handling firearms.

  6. Matt – You certainly wouldn’t know it from the enforcement statistics [not] published by the City on a regular basis despite such information being
    a.) easily assembled
    b.) a vehicle [pun intended] for demonstrating enhanced enforcement
    c.) not constrained by confidentiality concerns.

  7. Bob –

    A very good point. Here’s to hoping our new city manager will create and publish a set of regularly reported metrics on numbers of tickets issued, speed, fines levied, age/sex of drivers, resident/non-resident status, and ultimate fine received by the city.
    (And maybe another report on the number of coyotes “removed” from the area…)

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