Frank Vincenti makes his living trimming sideburns and clipping crew cuts.
But the Mineola barber, 47, would rather be scouting coyote sightings.
Since he founded the Wild Dog Foundation in 1996, Vincenti has transformed a personal interest in wild animals into a deep passion he hopes can serve his community. He spends his off-hours raising awareness about coyotes, foxes and wolves, and monitoring new reports.
“To some people, I might be obsessed, but I liked passionate,” he said. “I like coyotes and I like helping.”
Researchers have said that the development of a coyote breeding ground on Long Island is “inevitable,” which has raised some debate about how to deal with them. Last year, a pack of coyotes that took up residence on LaGuardia Airport property was euthanized after officials said they posed a hazard to employees and local residents. Vincenti aims to avoid this reaction in the future.
He doesn’t have an academic background, just years of experience as a devoted fan, and with the possibility of coyotes moving farther into Long Island, Vincenti said he strives to minimize fear through talks at schools and local libraries.
He’s also working on behalf of the coyotes — he preaches acceptance of their presence instead of removal, and scares them off when they get too comfortable around humans. He believes fear of coyotes is overblown and that the animals will live peacefully if left alone.
“Coyotes live in many urban areas in proximity to children,” he said. “A lot of conflicts are due to this behavior of being overly protective of their young; it’s the coyotes feeling they need to be protective.”
Visitors to Vincenti’s Barber Shop find the walls and counters lined with photos, paintings, collages and figurines of the animals he likes, primarily coyotes. He said he admires the creatures’ preserverance and loyalty to their packs and offspring.
When he’s not cutting hair, Vincenti follows up on tips and reported coyote sightings. He still visits LaGuardia regularly to watch a male coyote, the last of pack that had taken up residence on airport property.
“Long Island can have biodiversity,” he said. “Will there be conflicts? Of course, and I am here to help.”