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Are coyotes becoming bolder in CNY? An expert weighs in

If you come across a coyote, experts say to make yourself loud and imposing.

People who live in the suburbs around Syracuse are reporting seeing more coyotes creeping into neighborhoods and yards.

Their presence is no surprise to SUNY-ESF professor Jacqui Frair. The Director of ESF’s Roosevelt Wildlife Station said coyotes just need shelter and food, and they are the ultimate omnivores.

"Their habitat is where the food is most plentiful, and around people is where the food is most plentiful,” she said. “Out in the woods, they have to run it down, catch it, there's snow interfering with their ability to get it, and there's hunters."

Frair said there is also evidence there are shy coyotes, and there are bold coyotes. A lot of people mistake them for dogs in urban and suburban areas, so they’re becoming more comfortable in those habitats.

Frair said the first coyote she saw in the wild in New York state was in the parking lot at ESF.

"He was very funny because I was so surprised at his behavior because, he basically kept out of range where I could have caught him, but he wasn't in any hurry," said Frair.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation said while coyotes rarely attack adults, they do pose a risk to pets and small children. Frair said it’s important to keep coyotes afraid of people, but she said it’s not easy.

"For every person doing the right thing and chasing them every time, the person next door is feeding them to try to get a good photo, so it's a real challenge to manage the behavior of these animals."

If you run into a coyote, Frair recommends being loud and imposing, and don’t turn your back because that’s how prey behaves. And for people who have frequent coyotes in their yards, double check there are no easily accessible food sources like birdseed, dog food, or compost piles.

Frair said while it’s hard to say for sure if the number of coyotes in urban and suburban areas is on the rise, there is evidence that the animal’s overall population has been going up over the past 15 years.

"As territories fill up in the woods, and other areas, and they produce their young, they're going to go somewhere, right? So, we may have more and more creeping into the rural towns and even the cities,” she said.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.