“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.”