HOMETOWN HAPPENINGS: Living With Coyotes

By Town of Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann

 

Over the past few months, many residents have voiced concerns over coyotes appearing in their communities. This trend has sparked incidences of inaccurate reporting and unwarranted, but understandable fear.

In response to these concerns, the town hosted a Coyote Education Seminar to educate residents and dispel myths. We invited Frank Vincenti of the Wild Dog Foundation, one of the most active coyote education groups in North America, to present facts on this often misunderstood animal. The event had over 100 residents who wanted to learn more about coyotes.

It is important to note that Rockland County is the smallest county in New York State by area, but also happens to be the 14th most populated county in the state. A third of our county is designated parkland and is protected from development. When you combine county and state parks, the Town of Clarkstown has 700 acres of parkland and 250 acres of open space. All of this land area provides a natural habitat for all kinds of wildlife, including coyotes.

Let’s look at the numbers for some context on the recent phenomenon of coyote sightings. In 2017, the Clarkstown Police Department handled 485 service calls related to animal control. Of those calls, 12 were for coyotes, 23 were for fox sightings, and 13 were for bears. The last time the town had an incident that would be considered a coyote attack was five years ago, when a small pet was harmed by a coyote. Even if coyote sightings may have recently gone up, they account for only a handful of calls overall.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be vigilant!

Some recommendations on deterring coyotes are as follows:

  • Do not feed them, or make garbage easily accessible to them.
  • Limit the availability of bird seed you put out, as concentrations of birds and rodents attract coyotes.
  • Do not allow pets to run free, especially at sunset and at night.
  • Do not allow coyotes to approach people or pets.
  • If you see a coyote, exhibit aggressive behavior. Stand tall, hold your arms out and wave them to look large while making loud noises. If you see sticks and stones, throw them.

Residents are encouraged to contact the Clarkstown Police Animal Control Officer at 639-5888 or the main police line at 639-5800, any time, to report any animal incidents. Also, please be sure to follow the Clarkstown Police Department and the Town of Clarkstown on Facebook and other social media to keep up to date on animal sightings and basic safety tips.

Residents interested in viewing last week’s presentation can do so on the Town of Clarkstown YouTube channel. If we educate ourselves on coyotes and other wildlife in our area, and learn what to do if we see coyotes, we can protect our families and pets.

Thank you to Animal Control Officer Pat Coleman, the Clarkstown Police Department and Frank Vincenti for coordinating and conducting this informative event.