The Nassau County SPCA has confirmed sightings of coyotes in Searingtown earlier this month, officials said Tuesday.
The agency said while there is no need for alarm, residents should avoid approaching the animals and immediately call 911 if they spot a coyote.
"It is important that people do their part to maintain the natural fear that coyotes have of humans," the SPCA said in an advisory Tuesday.
A pair of coyotes was seen on camera near Green Drive and Reed Drive on July 10, said Gary Rogers, the county Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals president. The SPCA was called last week, he said, and it confirmed the sightings.
Frank Vincenti of Mineola, founder of the Wild Dog Foundation, said the images of the coyotes appear to be "credible."
Vincenti, whose organization raises awareness about coyotes, foxes and wolves, said he suspects the animals may have traveled from the Bronx via the Long Island Sound, a bridge or a rarely used railroad spur.
"Residents should not be concerned," Vincenti said. "I don't really believe this will be a major issue."
Coyotes are an integral part of New York’s ecosystem and provide many benefits to New Yorkers through observation, hunting and trapping. DEC reminds the public that seeing a coyote is not cause for concern.
While coyote sightings on Long Island are rare, experts have said for years that the canines will soon make their way to the region.
A 2015 report in Cities and the Environment, a scientific journal, found that Long Island and parts of New York City were among “the last large land masses” in the contiguous 48 states with no northeastern coyote breeding population.
Russell Burke, chairman of Hofstra University's biology department and one of the authors of the report "Coyotes Go 'Bridge and Tunnel,' " has said the development of a coyote breeding community on Long Island is "inevitable" and could occur in the next 20 years, possibly as soon as a few years from now.
While there have been a handful of unofficial sightings of coyotes in the region — most recently in Middle Island in January 2017 — the only confirmed coyote sighting on Long Island was by a farmer in a Bridgehampton field in July 2013, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
A State DEC spokesman Tuesday said the agency has not received reports of coyotes in Nassau.
In most cases, the DEC said, coyotes avoid humans. A coyote that does not flee from people should be considered dangerous and members of the public are urged to contact their local police department, animal control officer or regional DEC office.
The agency said members of the public should call DEC Wildlife at 631-444-0310 to report coyote sightings, and when possible, take photographs of the animal.
The SPCA provided a number of tips if residents see a coyote. They include:
- If confronted by a coyote, stand tall and hold your arms out to look large. If a coyote lingers for too long, make loud noises, wave your arms or throw sticks and stones. Do not run away as coyotes may view you as prey.
- Do not allow pets to run free. Supervise all outdoor pets to keep them safe from coyotes and other wildlife, especially at sunset and at night.
- Do not feed coyotes, and remove any unintentional food sources that may attract coyotes or other wildlife.
- Do not feed pets outside, and if you are feeding feral cats, watch the feedings and remove all food before leaving.
- Eliminate the availability of bird seed as groups of birds and rodents at feeders can attract wildlife.
- Ensure that garbage is inaccessible to wildlife, and fence or enclose compost piles.
- Teach children to appreciate wildlife from a distance to avoid the risk of injury.
- Fencing a yard may deter coyotes. Fences should extend 6 inches below ground and 4 feet above ground.
- Remove brush and tall grass to reduce protective cover for coyotes, which are secretive and like to hide.