It’s that time of year again when many of New York’s resident coyotes are setting up dens for pups. Coyotes are well adapted to suburban and even some urban environments, and for the most part they will avoid contact with people. However, conflicts with people and pets may result as coyotes tend to be territorial around den sites during the spring through mid-summer. They need to search almost constantly to provide food for their young.
Coyotes are found throughout the state. Incidents with people or pets are rare, but it is important to be aware of the presence of coyotes so steps can be taken to reduce the chance that a negative interaction occurs. While coyotes that reside in suburban environments are tolerant of people, it is important to take steps to maintain coyotes’ natural wariness of people. This can include removing sources of food, not allowing coyotes to approach people or pets, and not letting pets roam freely and unsupervised.
Last spring, there were two reported attacks on pets by coyotes. Witnesses described the coyotes as especially “bold” and it was believed that there was probably a den in the vicinity.
Yesterday, a woman let us know about a coyote behaving aggressively toward her dog on the Mohonk Preserve. Nicole Szendy of Wilmington, Vt., was hiking with her sister and long-haired dachshund, Olive, at around 3:30 p.m. “My sister was behind my dog and I and she heard something running down the incline opposite side of the Bonticou Crag, she didn’t notice what it was at first but kept hearing it coming closer and closer,” said Szendy. “She then noticed it was a large coyote coming towards me and my dog, slouching down with it ears back like it was in a stalking mode. He ran again towards us and I grabbed my dog and started talking loudly and ran going towards the entrance of the yellow trail as it was only 50 yards ahead and there was a big group coming down from the scramble. We didn’t have any more incidents or see the animal again and made our way back to our car safely, which was parked at the Spring Farm parking lot.”
Szendy’s account echoes those by Springtown Rd. residents around this time last year. “There were people close by so I don’t think this animal had much of a fear of humans,” she said. Szendy said she saw many people walking their dogs yesterday and hopes pet owners will take precautions.
Szendy did the right thing by talking loudly when the coyote approached. The DEC advises: “If you see a coyote, be aggressive in your behavior – stand tall and hold arms out to look large. If a coyote lingers for too long, then make loud noises, wave your arms, or throw sticks and stones.” It also advises pet owners to not let their pets run free, espeically cats and smaller dogs this time of year.
More information on coyote conflicts from the DEC: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6971.html.
For more on the history and biology of our local coyote, from its role as a Native American trickster god, to its eastern migration and crossing with wolves, check out our article: The wolf-like coyote in our backyard.