Judith Sheer figured her 10-year-old toy poodle was safe tethered up in her backyard — it’s the suburbs, after all. But the elderly woman was horrified when she heard a scream and went outside to find that her dog had disappeared, according to The New York Post.
After searching with a flashlight and finally calling the police, Sheer’s worst fear was realized: the dog was dead, the victim of coyotes that have become a more frequent sight in the suburbs around New York City and even in Manhattan itself.
"These coyotes are getting out of hand," Sheer said. "They are attacking a lot of the dogs and something has to be done."
In March, a coyote was captured in a parking garage near the Holland Tunnel in Manhattan after avoiding authorities for days. It took 30 police and helicopter backup to corral the animal, which has since been released into Pelham Park in the Bronx. Just weeks before, one was seen in Chelsea and three were spotted on the Columbia University campus.
It may seem as if the coyotes are growing in number or becoming bolder in general, but it’s just a seasonal spike in activity, according to wildlife pathologist Ward Stone.
"This is the time of year coyotes have babies, and a coyote with babies is not going to like a dog staked out in the vicinity of its den,” Stone told The New York Post.
Urban coyotes are actually common across North America. This species — which has usurped the wolf as the foremost canine predator in the West — prefers to avoid humans, but we exacerbate the problem by feeding them.
To keep scavenging coyotes from hanging around your home, The Fund for Animals recommends putting out only small amounts of bird feed at a time, keeping pet food indoors, picking fruit promptly and keeping trash can lids securely fastened.