Nervous New York dog owners are looking over their shoulder since a confirmed sighting of a coyote in the middle of Manhattan’s Central Park, CBS News reports.
The animal was first spotted about six weeks ago by a man walking his dog in the park. In another encounter in the same place on Saturday, the man’s 70-pound goldendoodle Rufus chased a coyote in the park after 9 p.m.
“Rufus saw it first and chased it. I caught Rufus and put him on leash. Once I did, the coyote approached us, although this time, much more aggressively than last time,” resident Terry Meehan told neighborhood newspaper The West Side Rag. “I threw sticks in its direction to ward it off, but it wasn’t too put off by it.”
There was a report of a coyote in March near the same area.
Coyotes live in nearby suburbs and north of Manhattan in the Bronx; one in the middle of Manhattan is rare. But there has been an uptick in coyote sightings in the borough. There have been 62 coyote sightings citywide since 2016, including 36 since Dec. 15 in Manhattan alone, reported 1010 WINS radio.
People who report spotting wildlife don’t always reveal the specific location. Reports can also represent multiple sightings of the same animal. A volunteer for the Central Park Conservancy, however, told the radio station that officials believe there are now one or two coyotes in the park.
A coyote spotted running down a Manhattan highway in Midtown last year was captured and transported to an “appropriate habitat,” according to police.
Officials are urging pet owners in Central Park to keep their dogs leashed, and to give any coyote they see a wide berth. If it approaches, people should yell and wave their arms, according to authorities. Coyotes typically prey on mice, rats and squirrels, but will likely encounter pets and humans in the busy Manhattan park.