Coyotes in NYC?

“Concrete jungle” just took on a whole new meaning.

Following several coyote sightings in Manhattan last year, a coyote appeared among the tombstones of Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens last week.

Wildlife expert Paul Curtis of Cornell University said this coyote was likely born last spring and kicked out of his home upstate to make room for newborn cubs. Now he is probably seeking a mate to start a family of his own, Curtis said.

Last year, coyotes were spotted in Trinity Cemetery in Harlem, Central Park and Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus.

Dr. David Bessler, a senior clinician at NYC Veterinary Specialists, said these animals lived in New York City before humans urbanized the area, and feel as they instinctively belong in NYC.

“Nature is more powerful than man and if we don’t successfully maintain [our habitat], nature will eventually creep back in,” he said. “But I don’t think that there are many coyotes … around New York City.”

Not only do these animals pose a threat to humans in such close proximity, but they also put themselves in danger. Death by automobile, starvation, freezing or frightened humans or government officials are all possible fates for undomesticated animals in metropolitan areas.

A large breeding population of coyotes exists in Westchester County and a small population dwells in the Bronx, but Bessler doubts the coyotes will make their way near NYU in Lower Manhattan.

“[The coyotes] are being seen in more rural areas, so there is really nowhere in Lower Manhattan where they would really be,” Bessler said. “When downtown Manhattan starts looking like Central Park, then maybe we will have a problem.”

LSP freshman Dahlia Darwiche said the wildlife sightings were a surprise to her.

“It is quite alarming to discover that [coyotes] can be in a city such as New York,” she said. “Being a New Yorker and knowing that they have made appearances in the city makes me a little nervous about walking around in the park areas.”

Coyotes are not the only wild animals to enter the city in recent years. A caiman, a type of crocodile, was captured in Central Park in 2001 and in Brooklyn in 2006, and a two-foot-long alligator was captured in Queens last year.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Jan. 31 print edition. Omari Allen is a deputy city/state editor. E-mail him at