In New York City, coyotes are the animal du jour. Below is an NYPD picture taken late Wednesday of a coyote prowling Riverside Park on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
The coyote eluded foot patrol officers equipped with tranquilizer guns, other officers in police cruisers and even an NYPD helicopter. The chase continued for 40 blocks until the coyote disappeared into the shrubbery near Grant's Tomb and the police gave up. (Oh, to have had that kind of police support the time I got mugged!) Anyway, people in the neighborhood are concerned. It was noted that the coyote's path crossed a soccer field used often by children's teams. Dog walkers are now more diligent about keeping their pets on leashes, short leashes. This was the fourth coyote sighting in Manhattan this year. Police did manage to capture the other three, which were released, according to news reports, "in Bronx parks with established coyote populations." I imagine Bronx residents are now busy writing thank-you notes to Manhattan police precinct commanders. The coyote story definitely is trending. Television news vans are trolling Manhattan streets seeking coyotes to photograph and interviewing New Yorkers about coyote sightings. It is estimated that the entire coyote population of the borough numbers less than 20. There is much discussion of whether the animals are dangerous; in fact, they are, sort of, especially to pets. News consumers have been advised not to worry, however, by an expert from the Gotham Coyote Project. (Yes, there is such a group.) His advice sounds like what my mother used to say when I was a fearful child -- the coyote is much more afraid of you than you are of the coyote. Well. Coyotes across the Hudson River in Bergen County, NJ, actually have been making pests of themselves this season. One attacked a dog recently. Another, this one rabid, bit a local man. I myself saw a coyote a couple years ago while driving down a residential street in New Jersey. The animal had torn into a garbage bag and was feasting on the remains of what appeared to be a human dinner of barbecued ribs. I stopped and watched for a while, then tapped the horn twice. The coyote, absorbed with its meal, ignored me. It did not run. I drove away instead. Mangiest critter I ever have seen. A friend of mine is an avid hiker in the Garden State. She tells me that coyotes are generally nocturnal and that, while she has not seen coyotes in the wild, she is familiar with their poop. It is hairy and usually deposited on rocks, she says. Interesting.