There is a short and long answer to this question. First the short answer: Coyotes are in NYC because they are remarkable in their ability to make a living (find food, shelter, and water) in cities while simultaneously avoiding the all-pervasive humans that dominate the landscape. Coyotes have not been “pushed out” of better, more pristine habitat. Coyotes are here because they can survive and reproduce successfully in our urban landscapes.
This leads us to the long answer: Why New York City? Why now?
Historically, coyotes called the deserts and prairies of much of the western U.S. (and parts of Mexico and Canada) home. However, in the last 100 to 150 years, coyotes have expanded their range north, south, east and west. They live as far north as Alaska and as far south as Panama. In the Northeast, their range expansion was a response to human disturbance. We cleared forest for farmland providing open habitat very familiar to western coyotes. We also eliminated cougars and wolves that would outcompete or prey upon coyotes. Nature abhors a vacuum, and coyotes responded. As the coyote’s range expanded, so too did its niche (e.g. how they make a living). They colonized farmland, forested wilds, suburbs, and cities alike. New York City is only the latest in a long line of cities that coyotes call home. Interestingly for us, Long Island remains the last large landmass in the U.S. without coyotes. That puts NYC at the edge of the coyotes range.