Learning to live alongside coyotes

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Coyote sightings have become a norm in and around Riverdale and on Saturday, Frank Vincenti, president of the Wild Dog Foundation, a non-profit wildlife education group, set out to explain how to live in harmony with them.

As part of a presentation he gave in Central Park called Balancing Urban Ecology or Conflict in the Concrete Jungle, Mr. Vincenti discussed reasons coyotes have come and how to keep them at bay.

The animals were first spotted in New York State in the 1920s and in the Bronx at Woodlawn Cemetery in 1995, he said. He said that Riverdale’s coyote population is most likely stable and consists of one family group that lives in Van Cortlandt Park and looks for rats and other rodents at night.

“Most of the sightings are in the middle of the night and fleetingly,” he said later in an interview, adding that Van Cortlandt Park is “probably their whole territory … that’s what I’ve seen in other urban areas.”

At the talk he said that while several attacks were reported last summer in Rye Brook, N.Y., just 15 miles from the Bronx, where coyotes, one of them rabid, injured two children ­— such occurrences are actually quite rare. As part of his presentation Mr. Vincenti said that it is when humans feed or initiate contact with coyotes that they begin to approach people for handouts.

“As much as I love them — and I do — coyotes really want nothing to do with us,” he said.

The first step to keeping coyotes at bay, Mr. Vincenti said, is to prevent habituation by securing garbage and not leaving pet food outside. This helps keep coyotes and other wildlife from trespassing into yards in search of food.

The second is to prevent habituation by training coyotes to fear humans.

“When you see an inquisitive coyote, stomp your foot and make loud noises and chase them away,” Mr. Vincenti said. “Coyotes understand when you assert dominance.”

The third is for pet owners to be responsible by keeping pets indoors at night and only taking them on leashed walks.

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