TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Coyotes can often be seen in Westchester, but coyote expert Frank Vincenti said there’s no reason be scared of the animals and that people can easily coexist with the canines.
“There’s a lot of myths with these animals,” Vincenti said during a presentation at the Carrollwood Condos in Tarrytown on Sunday. “It’s very easy to instill respect in them without lethal means.”
Vincenti, president of the Wild Dog Foundation, whose website lists one of its goals as promotion of coyotes as important predators, spoke to a crowd of about a dozen people in Tarrytown. He said many people see a coyote in their yards, panic and run back inside, which is the opposite of what you should do.
“If you show a little moxy, a little dominant behavior coyotes will learn to respect us,” he said.
Vincenti practices what he preaches, apparently. He told the crowd that he saw a coyote on his way into the Carrollwood Condos before the talk, and he honked his car horn to scare the animal away.
Vincenti encouraged yelling at coyotes and even running at them to scare them off since the animals are naturally afraid of humans. Any incidents of people being attacked by coyotes, Vincenti said, are rare and should not influence people’s perceptions.
“These incidents are few and far between, only two people have been killed by coyotes ever,” he said. “If you understand dogs, you can understand coyotes. You can train them out of behavior you don’t want but everybody needs to be on the ball.”
Vincenti said there are only two reasons for a coyote to initiate contact with people, which are food habituation and disease. Feeding coyotes or even leaving trash out that can be easily accessed is the first step in avoiding them in your yard.
For dog owners who are nervous about coyotes, Vincenti said to always keep them on a leash. If you see a coyote while walking your dog, he said it’s not a bad idea to pick your dog up and then yell to scare the coyote off. Doing this will make the coyote associate the dog with the human, which Vincenti said will scare the coyote off.
Hunting coyotes has become excessive, Vincenti said, as the hunting season for them is eight months long.
“I’m not against hunting, but the overhunting is disastrous,” he said. “They can regulate themselves for the amount of food sources that they have.”
Coyotes can be a good thing to have in the area as they will hunt and eat many of the large populations of rodents in the area including rats, groundhogs, rabbits, even geese and others.
“What I try to show New Yorkers is it’s a benefit to have these predators,” he said.