Living with Coyotes in New York City

When the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey isn't shutting down the George Washington Bridge as part of a political vendetta, it is busy murdering a family of coyotes living at LaGuardia Airport in an isolated parking area near Rikers Island.

Pat Foye, the Executive Director of the Port Authority, should be fired for his agency's inhumane treatment of these beautiful creatures.

The coyote family was first spotted this summer in a temporary parking lot built during construction at the airport. According to local wildlife experts, as many as eight pups and three adults were spotted in the original group before five of them were trapped and killed by the Port Authority on November 7th.

Notable organizations such as The Humane Society of the United States, the Wild Dog Foundation, Eastern Coyote Research and Nassau County SPCA advised a non-lethal approach to disperse the group through hazing, which involves simple methods such as raising arms and yelling, or using whistles, air horns, bells and "shaker" cans full of pennies. These measures are effective and should have been utilized until the animals could leave the area permanently.

I personally offered to pay to have the coyotes relocated to a large privately owned property in upstate New York. While relocation isn't an ideal or permanent solution, The Port Authority ignored this and all other recommendations and chose to have the coyotes killed instead.

They should have followed the lead of New York City Mayor deBlasio, who recently established a progressive program called WildlifeNYC, which offers these five tips for coexisting with coyotes:

• Do not feed them - keeping coyotes wild is the key to coexistence. Their life and your safety depend on coyotes remaining naturally wary of people.
• Remove attractants - store food, pet food and garbage in animal proof containers. Do not leave food or garbage behind in a park.
• Supervise pets - Walk dog on a leash and keep cats inside for safety.
• Keep coyotes wary - if you are approached, act big and make loud noises until the coyote retreats.
• Appreciate coyotes - from a distance. Stay at least 150 feet (45 meters) or more from the animal.

As if they were pets, the LaGuardia coyotes were actually fed on a regular basis by workers and others in the area offering food. They lost their natural fear of humans and became accustomed to interacting with people. These wild animals should not have been enticed to stay. Rather, the coyotes needed to be appropriately hazed for their own safety.

Public education is a vital part of sharing our urban areas with wildlife. Future conflicts involving coyotes should not lead to their needless demise. Moving forward, the Port Authority and other agencies need to come together and create an effective plan for dealing with coyotes and other wildlife - one that doesn't include needlessly euthanizing them.