Where Worlds Collide: Wildlife in the Suburbs

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Stephen DeStefano, research professor in the Department of Natural Resources Conservation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and leader of the U.S. Geological Survey's Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and author of Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia (Harvard University Press, 2010), looks at the interplay of wildlife and suburban sprawl in his new book.


Stephen DeStefano

Comments [23]

Amy from Manhattan

Having grown up watching Road Runner cartoons & later studied Spanish, I pronounce it kye-YO-tee. (If you're going to pronounce it the "English" way it's written, shouldn't it be KOY-oat rather than KYE-oat?)

And thanks to Estelle for the origin! Never occurred to me that it might be Nahuatl, but it makes perfect sense.

Feb. 10 2010 01:01 AM
Susan from Highland Lakes, NJ

Don't be afraid, educate yourselves.
check out Dr. Jon Way's website ""

Read his excellent book "Suburban Howls".
Go with him as he tracks radio-collared coyotes (coywolves) on Cape Cod.

Hunting coyotes may upset territorial dynamics and have more young coyotes competing for area than dealing with the coyote that has established your neighborhood as it's territory.

I live in an area where encounters with black bears is not uncommon and I've seen a few coyotes over the years. As long as you don't tie out your tiny dog for the day, or leave your pet cats outside all day, and keep your household trash (leftovers)pet foods and bird seeds and other attractants secure, you will have nothing to worry about.

Urban coytes are doing alot to keep the rodent population in check.

People have to learn to be more tolerant about other species that inhabit this world with us!

Feb. 09 2010 11:05 AM

If you own a dog or have small kids and coyotes are in your neighborhood by al means beware, they frequently go after the defenseless. I've been in the West for many years and know several people that have lost pets, and good sized ones as the coyotes usually work in packs even if you just see one.

Feb. 09 2010 10:59 AM
Erum from White Plains

I see deer in my around my house as often as I find rats in the subway. Wild turkeys come out during the day when foxes must be asleep. I hear rumors of a stray wolf lurking around at night, but haven't seen it yet.

Feb. 09 2010 10:59 AM
judith Targove from highland park, nj

Isn't "coyote" a Spanish word? In that case the final e is pronounced. In Englishe the final "e" is usually silent.

Feb. 09 2010 10:59 AM
mark from brooklyn

By the way, this is a great phenomenon. It's time that we cede a little..

Feb. 09 2010 10:58 AM
John from Brooklyn

Please mention that cats should also be kept indoors when there is a known Coyote in your neighborhood!


Feb. 09 2010 10:58 AM
Matthew from Brooklyn

We saw a coyote in Woodlawn Cemetery back in the late 1990s. We told the guard on the way out and he was, no big deal, they come in here all the time.

As to how they get to Manhattan: they take the 4 train. And you know they jump the turnstile.

Feb. 09 2010 10:58 AM
Dave G from High Bridge, NJ

I live in a small, semi-rural town in Hunterdon County, NJ with a mix of close neighborhoods and open wooded areas.

We have had the following in our backyard:

deer (every day...) - destroying the understory
red fox - came to our back porch for a while in spring to eat spilled dry cat food
bears - in spring the cubs follow powerline from the north, then along S. Branch of Raritan River from Lockwood Gorge looking for shelter.
eagles - 3 now nesting around nearby lake
vultures - have nested in our 80 ft spruce trees on and off for years - very disgusting!
wild turkeys - fly up into the trees and wander through yards, again moving along the river.
skunks, racoons - sometimes poking around in garage
coyotes - have seen in nearby fields - never in town

Feb. 09 2010 10:58 AM
John from Brooklyn

Regarding Coyotes in your neighborhood and your pets. Please mention that cats should be kept indoors if you know of a Coyote in your neighborhood!

Thank you!

Feb. 09 2010 10:57 AM
Elliott from Bridgeport CT

We have had Coyote's around our golf course for years and they're near my back yard by the Sound! They range in size from fox size to German Shepard in height. Is it a resurgence or coincidence that they have found easy pickings in urban & suburban areas? Also I take it they have no natural predator besides man?

Feb. 09 2010 10:57 AM
Estelle from Austin

"Coyote" is derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec) "coyotl." In Mexican Spanish that is adapted to "coyote," so the closest English pronunciation would be the one with three syllables, pronouncing the "e."

Feb. 09 2010 10:56 AM
John Asbury from Manhattan

I live in Park Slope. One night a raccoon crossed the sidewalk and ran across the street as I made my way from the train. I grew up in a rural area, so I am certain of what I saw. Weird.

Feb. 09 2010 10:53 AM
mark from brooklyn

there's a great video clip about a whitetail buck that made it to governor's island. perhaps the coyotes are tracking him..

there was also a story about a coyote who rode the light rail in portland oregon a few years back.

Feb. 09 2010 10:53 AM
Michael Altobello from Queens

I'm keeping my fingers crossed That Mrs. Palin gets the nomination. Wouldn't it be great if she instituted aerial coyote gunning in the airspace over Manhattan?

Feb. 09 2010 10:52 AM

Good for nature, trying to reclaim land from us humans.

Feb. 09 2010 10:52 AM

Do NYC residents have to worry about spending time in Central Park (i.e., running in the evening...)?

Feb. 09 2010 10:52 AM
Chris from Hartsdale, Westchester

We've had individual coyotes in our neighborhood for years. Just in the last couple of weeks (and last night after dinner) we are now hearing packs in the woods behind our house. They are yipping and barking - and our dog is barking right along with them.

While we need to be careful about our dogs and cats, I don't want us "controlling" them. I love having wildlife at my back door (literally). We have red fox, hawks, opossum, deer, owls, wild turkeys. All within 25 miles of midtown!

Feb. 09 2010 10:52 AM
Taylor from Brooklyn

why are we talking about 'Columbia' like that's a neighborhood? can we say 'upper manhattan' out of respect for the residents of that area trying to keep their homes away from the educational institution which is aparently so powerful...

Feb. 09 2010 10:52 AM
Jeanne from Hawthorne, NJ

Please leave them alone. If man would just let it be, nature will take care of itself. I live in Northern NJ and there is plenty of wildlife. We have bears sunning in our backyard, coyotes slinking in and out, pheasants etc. WE LOVE THEM ALL!!!!

Feb. 09 2010 10:52 AM
Dennis from Manhattan

Hopefully the coyotes can chase away the skunks in Inwood.

Feb. 09 2010 10:51 AM
Barbara from Yonkers

Hey Brian,

We had a wounded coyote in our backdoor in northwest Yonkers. I was horrified that the police came and shot it. They said there are many sightings and people are afraid of them because they will eat small children and animals.

They travel down the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail.

Feb. 09 2010 10:51 AM
Andrea from manhattan

Is there a relationship between the seeming increase in the white tailed deer population and coyotes?

Feb. 09 2010 10:48 AM

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