WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – While coyote incidents are on the decline overall, Westchester County experts say that coyotes are typically more active during the spring season and it could be the reason for an increase in coyote attacks on small pets in Westchester County.
Two recent incidents involving pets caused New Castle Police to send out an alert to residents about coyotes Monday, but the latest statistics on coyote reports to the Department of Enivronmental Conservation show that incidents in New York are on the decline. There were at total of 36 incidents reported to the DEC in 2012, down from 39 in 2011 and 80 in 2007, according to the latest reports released by the DEC.
Statistics may not be helpful for the Westchester families who have recently lost pets to recent coyote attacks. But Maggie Ciarcia, a licensed NYS wildlife rehabilitator who serves Westchester County, said there is a strong correlation in coyote attacks on small pets during the spring season.
“Right now is the time of year when coyotes have their babies,” Ciarcia said. “The coyote pups are typically born in late-March into early-May so they’re more likely to hunt for any food they can find in the spring. They’ve been here all along, not just to have their pups, but they’re typically more active in the spring.”
Coyotes view domestic dogs as a threat to their young during the "spring denning season," according to the DEC. Ciarcia said the incidents in Chappaqua were most likely the result of one mother looking to feed and protect its young.
“My guess would be those all involve the same coyote family,” Ciarcia said. “Normally they eat mice or rodents and do a great job of keeping the rodent population down but coyotes can become very situated to humans and to easy food. So we always warn people not to feed coyotes or leave food for outdoor pets.”
Sightings have been reported throughout Westchester County. Rye Brook hired a licensed trapper in December 2012 to catch a coyote that was involved in reported attacks, a possibly sick coyote was spotted in Yorktown in September 2012 and several Tarrytown residents were startled when they spotted coyotes in May 2012.
From keeping a constant eye on pets when outside, to sealing garbage cans tightly and cleaning up any bird seed waste or building a fence, there are dozens of things Westchester County residents can do to avoid conflicts with coyotes. People and coyotes can coexist peacefully “if the coyotes’ natural fear of people is maintained,” DEC representatives said.
For those looking for more tips on how to prevent incidents involving coyotes, residents can visit the Coyote Conflicts webpage from the DEC . Chappaqua residents Jill and Michael Dresner also recommended residents use The Daily Voice Twitter and Facebook pages any time they ever see a coyote in the area to alert residents to keep their pets and small children inside.
Please alert The Daily Voice through Facebook or Twitter if you see a coyote or hear a report of a sighting.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.