By Mark Weckel
This past week I joined Sarah Grimke Aucoin, Director of the Urban Park Rangers, and City College professors, Denise Hoffman Brandtand Catherine Seavitt, to discuss Our Animal Nature: Living with Wildlife in New York City. The panel, organized by the U.S Forest Service Urban Field Station, grew out of Denise and Catherine's recent installation "We Live with Animals." Last November, the two explored moments of human-wildlife connection on the streets of NYC through exhibitions, walking tours, and a series of commemorative plaques.
Gotham Coyote Project is honored to be the final recipient of the plaque created to mark the several coyotes observed in NYC during the winter of 2010. By our count, three different coyotes were spotted in Manhattan and at least one of them made it to the Hallett in Central Park (the coyote is no longer there). The plaque now sits in our office looking out over Central Park. Poetic, no?
So, do coyotes live in Central Park? Generally, no. Coyotes have and will show up from time to time in NYC's most iconic park. But these are visitors and probably won't stay long. Central Park might be big enough to support a few individuals, but it is way too much of a playground for people to be one for coyotes. Thirty-five million people visit Central Park each year, and pretty much all of it is visited by people day and night. We hesitate to make any black and white predictions about an animal that has previously defied the predictions of so many others, but coyotes greatly prefer to minimize their interaction with people and that is very difficult to do in Central Park. We expect coyotes will do well, and are doing well, in some of the less-visited parks in the City.