While Stuyvesant Town has become known for its wildlife, in particular its famous black squirrels, on Sunday morning, the complex was visited for the first time by a coyote.
The coyote, a young female, which has been named Stella by Parks officials and has since been captured and released into a wooded area in the Bronx, had likely traveled south into Manhattan.
She was captured on the property on the Avenue C side by police officers, who then brought her to Animal Care and Control, where she was given a clean bill of health.
Meanwhile, a Parks official T&V interviewed about the incident said that coyote sightings in the city are becoming more common, and she expects that this trend will only continue. Just a couple of weeks ago, another coyote was found in Riverside Park, and in 2011, another coyote had wandered into Tribeca.
Sarah Aucoin, director of NYC Parks’ Urban Park Rangers, said the coyote’s visit last weekend was “not entirely unexpected.
“We know that many coyotes have been expanding their range,” she said. “Not in Stuyvesant Town obviously but New York City provides a good habitat.”
While it may seem like the traffic and other city related hazards would scare off the wild canines, “coyotes are adaptable,” said Aucoin. “They’re opportunistic like raccoons and squirrels and thrive in close proximity to humans. They also can be attracted by huge rodent populations because that’s their primary diet, small mammals and birds.”
Since they’ve been moving into cities throughout the northeast, the intelligent creatures have even come to understand what it means when traffic lights change, Aucoin said. In New York, coyotes tend to live and breed in the Bronx and Westchester.
Typically when they wander into areas heavily populated by humans, it’s unintentional as generally coyotes see humans as predators and will try to avoid them. Usually this is done by young coyotes who’ve only recently left their families to branch out on their own. Coyote pups remain with their mothers until they’re eight months to a year and a half old.
“Usually they head north, but the few we’ve seen in Manhattan have headed south for some reason,” said Aucoin.
As for the one who visited Stuy Town, Stella was an adult, but a small one at around 30 pounds.
Aucoin said it isn’t likely that the coyote traveled downtown along the East Side but more likely got to Manhattan from the West Side, then traveled east at night. While she wasn’t injured during her adventure, she was tranquilized and later microchipped.
Aucoin wasn’t personally involved in her rescue or transfer to an area in the Bronx — which she declined to identify — but said she heard later that Stella was very happy to be released and away from humans.
Stella’s presence, as with other coyote sightings, was reported by New Yorkers, since, despite their resemblance to dogs, they’re still pretty distinct looking.
“Generally a coyote gets big; it doesn’t look like a German Shepherd,” said Aucoin. “It looks like a coyote.”
Because park rangers have seen an increase in urban sightings in recent years, the department has a few recommendations in the event New Yorkers come face to face with one.
Don’t approach it. While coyotes will usually try to avoid humans, if one does approach, the best way to respond is to try to shoo it away. “Make a loud noise; scare it away,” said Aucoin. “The best way to keep a coyote safe is to keep it afraid of people, keep it wary of people.”
Don’t try to feed it. “People want to feel like they’re doing good and it’s fun for the kids, but as soon as they think, ‘That person’s nice. That person has food for me,’ that’s when we have a problem. As soon as they start begging, they go from being wildlife to being a pest.”
Keep your dog on a leash at all times and don’t feed pets outside.
Report aggressive or fearless coyotes immediately.