Coyote — not a wolf — spotted in Westmoreland
WESTMORELAND — There is no wolf running around the Village of Westmoreland — according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the furry, gray canine spotted throughout the village over the past week is a coyote, which are common across Central New York.
A photographer took pictures of the coyote on Bartlett Road near the Thruway and shared the photos on social media, causing many to wonder if it was possibly a gray wolf. Several people — including the Daily Sentinel — shared the photos with the DEC and their wildlife experts confirmed it was an Eastern coyote.
According to the DEC, New York is home to a well-established, self-sustaining population of Eastern coyotes. This breed is distinguished from coyotes west of the Mississippi River by being slightly larger in size (about 40 pounds, on average) and having a mix of coyote, wolf, and dog ancestry. Wolves are larger than both.
Eastern coyotes are found throughout New York and populations are stable in most regions.
Wolves in New York are much harder to find than their coyote kin. A male wolf was confirmed found in Otsego County in 2021, officials said, but the origins of the animal remain unknown. DEC officials said they do not know if the lone wolf somehow traveled to New York, or if it had been released from a life in captivity.
DNA tests indicated the animal was most likely from the Great Lakes population of wolves, which currently have no established populations in any adjacent state and no known wolves closer than Michigan, officials said after studying the wolf.
At present, the natural recolonization of wolves in New York is unlikely, officials noted.
As for coyotes, they tend to avoid contact with people, officials said — but conflicts with people and pets may occur as coyotes tend to be more territorial during breeding and pup-rearing seasons in the spring and summer. If coyotes learn to associate food sources like garbage or pet food with people, these animals may lose their natural fear of humans, increasing the potential for close encounters or conflicts.
Coyote tips and advice:
• Do not feed coyotes.
• Do not leave food outside. Pet food and garbage attract coyotes and other wildlife and increase risks to people and pets. Do not feed pets outside. Prevent access to garbage. Fence or enclose your compost piles.
• Eliminate availability of bird seed. Concentrations of birds and rodents that come to feeders can attract coyotes.
• Do not allow coyotes to approach people or pets. If you see a coyote, be aggressive in your behavior: stand tall and hold your arms up or out to look as large as possible. If a coyote lingers for too long, make loud noises, wave arms and throw sticks and stones.
• Teach children to appreciate coyotes from a distance.
• Do not allow pets to run free. Supervise outdoor pets to keep them safe from coyotes and other wildlife, especially at sunset and at night. Small dogs and cats are especially vulnerable.
• Fence yards to deter coyotes. The fence should be more than 4-feet-tall, and tight to the ground, preferably extending 6-inches below ground level.
• Remove brush and tall grass from around homes to reduce protective cover for coyotes. Coyotes are typically secretive and like areas where they can hide.
• Ask neighbors to follow these steps to prevent coyote conflicts.
Simply seeing a coyote occasionally is not a cause for concern, officials said. But if coyotes exhibit bold behaviors and fail to show fear of people, or if seen repeatedly during the day near residences, the public is advised to contact their regional DEC office for assistance. In an emergency, call 9-1-1.
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