In the wake of the first officially confirmed Long Island coyote sighting, announced Monday by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Long Islanders have been sharing their own photos and unofficial sightings with both Newsday and the DEC.
Said one person on Newsday's Facebook page: "this might actually be whats behind my house cause they make those howling sounds that are creepy." Another person said: "I saw one a few months ago in Glen Head!! Wish I could've gotten a picture of it! They're definitely around!"
Since Monday about 10 reports of Long Island coyote sightings -- so far all unconfirmed -- have been shared with a new DEC initiative, a citizen scientist project to help monitor fur-bearing mammals on Long Island and in New York City, a DEC spokesman said. The agency said Monday it is investigating whether other coyotes are in the area.
Besides coyotes, submitters to the Furbearer Sighting Survey page can share details of their observations of gray fox, river otters, weasels, minks, skunks and beavers at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/30770.html.
To help confirm certain current sightings, wildlife managers go out in the field, seeking tracks and scat -- animal droppings -- said Bill Fonda, DEC spokesman based on Long Island. Those who submit photos for verification will be informed as to what wildlife managers believe the animal to be, he said.
In a May news release announcing the initiative, Joe Martens, DEC commissioner said, "citizen science efforts provide our wildlife managers with valuable data and give people the opportunity to partner with DEC to help monitor New York's wildlife resources." Even roadkill reports can be helpful, the release said.
On Monday, the agency confirmed a photo taken a week earlier by a South Fork farmer, indeed, to be that of a coyote.
"To the best of my knowledge, this is the first confirmed sighting in Nassau and Suffolk counties," said Fonda in an email, though "there have been many reports of coyote sightings on Fishers Island."
Richard Wesnofske, 50, the Water Mill farmer who said he saw the creature, snapped the photo with his iPhone around 7 a.m. Monday, June 24, in his potato field. The creature gave him a glance, said Wesnofske, and looked to be "in no hurry to run away . . . [it] went about his business and didn't seem affected by seeing me."
Wesnofske said he sent the photo to a hunting guide. The guide, who said he had seen a coyote in recent years, sent the photo to the DEC.
On Tuesday, a Twitter feed named @HamptonsCoyote started tweeting news of its lunch, beach and Fourth of July plans. Its bio says, "I live in a potato field in Water Mill. I enjoy Living in the Hampton's all year round. I like to run, eat, prey, and scare tourists."