How coyotes live among us in NYC: 'They’re New Yorkers, too!'

Did you know there's a coyote population that thrives in NYC?

Of course, as New Yorkers, we see animals such as pigeons and rats almost daily. But research from several different NYC agencies tell us that the large mammals are just as common in the Big Apple.

Last weekend, a man on an early-morning run spotted a ‘large’ coyote in Central Park, saying the animal was around the size of a large German shepherd. Was it a fluke, or do the animals actually live among us in NYC? Here's what you need to know.

How did coyotes migrate to NYC?

Coyotes are not originally from New York City, obviously. 

According to WildlifeNYC, the animals were formerly residents of the Great Plains and Southwest. Over time, they extended their range and now, coyotes can be found across the entire state, not just the Big Apple.

"Many of the coyotes currently living in the city can actually be traced back to the original group that first arrived in the Bronx, so they truly are multi-generational New Yorkers," the website said.

Coyotes have been present in NY since the 1930s, and firmly established across the state since the 1970s, the website says.

Where do coyotes live in NYC?

The animals live in urban forests, suburban neighborhoods and parkland, and are currently known to live in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens. The animals usually occupy the same two-square-mile territory all year long.

"In the wild, eastern coyotes usually live for six to eight years, though they often live much shorter lives in urban environments," WildlifeNYC said. "Hunting, disease, and vehicle collisions are the major causes of death for coyotes."

In a 2023 report, officials told FOX 5 NY that coyote sightings were increasing across New York City. Sightings spiked back in 2019 when one was spotted in Central Park.

Do coyotes live on Long Island?

"One of the last large land masses in the U.S. without a breeding coyote population is Long Island, NY. That puts the 5 boroughs of NYC at the edge of the coyotes' growing range," the Gotham Coyote Project, NYC said.

Are coyotes dangerous to humans? Pets?

In New York, the most commonly reported issues with coyotes were incidents involving pets, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

"Coyotes seldom approach or act aggressively towards people directly; however, dogs and cats attract coyotes. Coyotes approaching pets pose an immediate risk to the safety of pets and can jeopardize human safety, too," the website said.

Incidents between people and coyotes are rare, but the potential remains, especially if they allow coyotes to approach people and pets.

What to do if you see a coyote?

"Seeing a coyote for the first time can be an exhilarating or an alarming experience. If you see a coyote, do not panic," the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation said.

If you see an aggressive or fearless coyote, the department says to report it immediately to on-site golf course or Parks personnel. In case of a medical emergency, such as a bite from or physical contact with a coyote, call 911.

How to coexist with coyotes in NYC

  • Do not feed them.
  • Observe and appreciate them from a distance.
  • Store all food and garbage in animal-proof containers.
  • Protect your pets.
  • Keep coyotes wary.

***NOTE: These are tips from WildlifeNYC.

Recent sightings in NYC

  • Last weekend, a man on an early-morning run on the Upper West Side spotted a large coyote in Central Park.
  • Back in March 2023, residents of Queens spotted a coyote strolling along the street.
  • About a month later, one was rescued from the East River.

"From soaring hawks to curious coyotes, it’s no surprise that we encounter animals everywhere from our parks and greenspaces to our roads and roofs. After all, they’re New Yorkers, too!" said WildlifeNYC, a campaign launched to increase public awareness about wildlife in the Big Apple.