Coyotes tend to avoid human contact. But recently, coyotes have been getting increasingly aggressive in the eastern United States, including southeastern New York state, attacking neighborhood pets on the fringe of urban and suburban areas.
"This kind of aggressive behavior is usually the last stage before coyotes actually start attacking humans -- such as small children that are perceived by the coyotes as a potential food source," says Paul Curtis, associate professor of natural resources at Cornell University. He notes that in the past two decades, several dozen attacks on humans have been reported in California.
Coyotes, which are closely related to dogs and wolves, are ubiquitous in North America, but they rarely have been a danger to humans. Fearful of being hunted and trapped, these large carnivores have typically stayed in wooded areas and away from humans. But now that coyotes have started foraging in suburban areas, more research is needed to find out why and how to prevent potential conflicts with people.
To report a coyote that is acting strangely or causing a nuisance, call the nearest regional DEC office. For contact information for DEC regional offices, see www.dec.state.ny.us/website/about/abtrull3.html.
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