Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown now home to coyote found wandering the streets in Queens
Straight out of a 1949 cartoon, a coyote found wandering Queens streets near a middle school was caught “in good condition” and now resides at Smithtown’s Sweetbriar Nature Center, the NYPD said.
Alerted by a 911 caller at 7:10 a.m. on Wednesday, officers “met an individual who also had observed the coyote while operating her vehicle,” said Det. Arlene Muniz.
That woman told them she was a wildlife rehabilitator. Working with the NYPD emergency service unit, “they corralled the coyote into a cage belonging to the rescuer and then transported the coyote to Sweetbriar Nature Center in good condition,” the detective said.
As the 105th Precinct based in Queens Village put it, “This morning, NCOs assigned to Sector Eddie were alerted by residents of this individual wanted for the attempted kidnapping of The Road Runner. With help from our friends at ESU, the individual was taken into custody without incident.”
The police said they were called to “the vicinity of 81st Ave. and 257th St.” in the Queens neighborhood of Floral Park. The Irwin Altman Middle School sits at that crossing.
This was the latest coyote to be found in urban or suburban areas, one of a small but increasing band of intrepid wanderers possibly hunting for new territory or a mate, experts say.
This one escaped without charges by the police — or a perilous encounter with people. Video shows the coyote strolling leisurely, if not gingerly, along the sidewalk.
Janine Bendicksen, director of wildlife rehabilitation for Sweetbriar, said the coyote is basically in "good shape" but has an old injury, a broken hip, most likely from being hit by a car. That probably was the reason it was wandering the streets and could be captured.
"You can't capture a coyote who is doing well," she said, adding that the year-old animal was probably leaving its pack and setting out to find new territory.
She is hoping the injury will heal on its own, with confinement, rest and pain medicine, but if not, the animal could be sent to Cornell University's veterinary school upstate for surgery. By law, it must be released back into the wild, somewhere near where it came from, once it is healthy and fit to hunt on its own, Bendicksen said. But that decision is ultimately made in coordination with the Department of Environmental Conservation, she said.
"There are coyote populations on Long Island. They don't want to be seen. They don't want to be found," she said, adding it is a "good thing" because they can help keep the deer population in check. She stressed that they are not a danger to humans and are originally native to the area, although they haven't been seen for many years.
"We don't want people to be afraid," she said, adding that the coyote is "probably terrified" being in captivity and will not be on public display.
With Steve Langford