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Coexisting with Coyotes on Long Island

Mineola resident Frank Vincenti gives perspective on coyotes in urban areas.

“The whole reason I do these talks is not only because I have a passion for coyotes, but there’s the fact that coyotes can live in close proximity to us and that has some people unnerved,” Frank Vincenti, Director of the Wild Dog Foundation, said during a presentation at the  Saturday afternoon. “I’m trying to educate people on how to coexist with them peacefully.”

The recently increased sightings of coyotes in urban areas have inspired Vincenti to take a proactive approach to educate people about coexisting with the animals. It is his view that Long Island is the “true” destination for coyotes.

While the animals would not be roaming the urbanized streets of Mineola, they would most likely inhabit natural areas like those around the North Shore and Westbury.

Vincenti believes the coyotes will travel through natural wooded areas along highways and eventually make their way onto Long Island.

“Certainly in Queens along the Grand Central Parkway all the beautiful wooded areas right off the highway are perfect wildlife highways for coyotes,” he said. “So they could traverse all that and find their way out here.”

While coyotes rarely conflict with humans, several attacks were reported in Rye Brook last summer, including an incident where two young girls were injured by a rabid coyote, which sparked an out lash against the remaining packs in the area.

Vincenti assured the audience that sharing a community with coyotes is not a bad thing as the animals have been living in urban areas for decades without much conflict, dating back to 1995 when the Bronx recorded its first coyote sighting. But in his view, because of prejudice, lack of proper education and intolerance, humans are trying to limit coyotes in urban areas like Rye Brook.

Since coyotes appear to be migrating toward Long Island, it is Vincenti’s goal to educate people through lectures so they can be prepared for these possible new neighbors. Instead of trying to eradicate coyotes from these areas, Vincenti gives his audience advice for coexistence.

Firstly, coyotes should never be fed by humans. Normally coyotes keep to themselves, shying away from humans. Once they become used to handouts, they are “as good as dead,” Vincenti warned.

“Coyotes are wild animals. Like any other animal, they are best kept wild.”

Given that coyotes and dogs are similar creatures, coyotes become nervous in the presence of the domestic animals. If you come in contact while walking a pet, asserting dominance is an important factor when facing the coyote.

“Yell at them, stomp your foot at them, maybe even throw and object towards them,” Vincenti said. “Don’t hit them, but certainly throw something towards them.”

Marking the territory through loud noises will instill fear in the coyote and teach it to stay away.

Studies show that coyotes are more likely to subsist in local parks, cemeteries and golf courses. At night, they are known to hunt the city streets for rodents; a benefit that any community can appreciate.

“My only concern is to show they can exist in close proximity to humans and with minimum impact and minimum conflict as long as simple common sense things are done,” he said, “which is what I aim to tell the public.”

Bob Rabey March 17, 2011 at 09:07 AM
Such is true for ALL wildlife. I own a home in a rural part of Maine, which is surrounded by every kind of animal you can imagine. To my knowledge, there has never been any kind of an attack on humans. In fact, unless the animal is either sick or injured, they simply stay to themselves. This wildlife is of great benefit, as they keep the surrounding forests clean and in good order. At night, you can hear them making their rounds, and it's a very peaceful sound.
Alison Nicholls March 17, 2011 at 01:46 PM
How would I feel if coyotes lived in my community? They do - I live very close to Rye Brook and witnessed the reaction of the community last summer. Some residents seemed horrified to learn that coyotes live in the area and did not understand that suburban areas are, and should be, home to many species of wildlife. People are quite rightly concerned about their children and pets, which makes education particularly important, so that people know how to behave around wildlife. Unfortunately the reaction to coyotes seems all too common in an age when many people have little or no connection to the natural world. Instead of teaching co-existence or instilling a sense of wonder into children, we teach them to fear a creature which, for the most part, would prefer to have nothing to do with us, our children or our animals. I would recommend attending a Wild Dog Foundation lecture to learn more about coyotes.
John February 28, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Everything written here is true and agree with all of it. But there is a fact that coyotes have killed and hunted pets to feed. So in my case I don't feel as comfortable if anything happened to my pet while he's playing outside.
Fernando Vincenzini July 31, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I live in Glen Cove, a coyote mauled my sheltie and she's lucky to be alive. The Board of Directors in my small community still think this is a fox! the problem is I have never seen a fox to be about 35 pounds and aggressive enough to go after a pet. I say, since i didn't buy a house in the prairie, or in a preserve, i say get rid of them! relocate them to some animal lover's backyard.
Joe Russo September 10, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Fernando you sound like a fool. Learn to live with them...their here to stay!
Maryann Balletti October 22, 2012 at 10:42 AM
I was out walking my dog at 6am in Commack this past spring. There sitting in the middle of the road was a coyote. It was young, hadn't quite grown into it's ears yet. Sharply pointed snout, huge ears, gray with black tip fur, large bushy tail. It was not a dog or a fox as I've been told that is what it must have been. It wasn't even paying attention to me - was more interested in my 12 lb dog. Haven't seen it since, but I have no doubt what it was.
Scott MacDonald July 02, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Don't underestimate these animals. They are more aggressive than their western cousins. We need to repsect them, and protect them, but they DO attack people. A young woman was killed in Canada several years ago by two. They are a hybrid of the western coyote, and the red wolf. They have stronger jaws, and are slightly larger than their western cousins, as well. Pets and unattended toddlers are NOT safe around them.

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