From roaches to rats, pigeons to lantern flies, New York City is home to quite a few critters. I guess we can add coyotes to the list!
Commonly believed to only exist in rural parts of the world, coyotes are able to live around humans in more urban settings. The furry friends are already established in almost all New York counties except Long Island and New York City, but a recent New York Timesreport found that there's a gang of coyotes taking on the Big Apple.
According to urban ecologist Dr. Carol Henger, there are "between 20 and 30 coyotes." It's a decent estimate based on the number of possible habitats. How did they determine the population and behavior of these beautiful creatures? Poop, of course.
Dr. Henger's team collaborated with the Gotham Coyote Project to track down coyote feces across the five boroughs. They enlisted the help of trained dogs to sniff out the prized poops. Over a decade-long period, they obtained 95 samples. Most came from Bronx greenery, some near LaGuardia Airport and the rest mainly scattered across Queens.
With the feces samples, they then scan for DNA to determine what is keeping these coyotes alive. You can rest easy knowing that coyotes aren't scouring for Chinese takeout and Two Bros Pizza. Surprisingly, human food only accounted for about 22 percent of their diet! They do love a good chicken scrap.
Instead, they dine on small mammals, bugs, plants and even venison when the season is right. They also do help keep the trash panda population under control, so your food scraps will still definitely end up in the tummy of a few coyotes.
One surprising finding? Coyotes don't eat a lot of rats. According to Dr. Henger, coyotes are pretty antisocial. "I think it’s because rats are usually where we are,” she said. “And coyotes don’t want to be where the people are."
Personally, I don't blame them.
Photo courtesy of Robert Enriquez/Shutterstock
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