A coyote has been spotted three times in New York’s Central Park in the last couple of weeks, but officials have reassured visitors they have nothing to fear.
Cell phone footage captured the unusual sight of the beast as it strolled through the snowy landscape, in the middle of one of the US’ most populous cities.
Passer-by Beny saw the animal around 10pm on February 8.
Crunching through the snow holding his cell phone, he walks slowly towards the coyote, who stops several times to look back at him, before trotting past benches.
‘Coyote in Central Park,’ he can be heard saying.
Two days earlier, on February 6, Nancy Mendoza posted on Twitter that she had been out in the park around 11pm, hoping to catch a glimpse of a rare snowy owl, when she crossed paths with it near the lake, but was unable to take a photo in time.
‘It was a thrill! A huge consolation prize!’ she tweeted.
And then again, a few days later on February 12, a coyote was also captured by photographer Benjamin Shyman, lying in the snow near the lake, close to East 74 Street.
It is potentially the same animal after park officials later claimed it was their sole resident, who could be seen fairly regularly around sunrise or sunset.
New Yorker Beny captured this video around 10pm on February 8 of the coyote walking through New York’s Central Park
Beny’s video shows the animal looking back at him several times as the resident walks towards him
Eventually the coyote can be seen trotting away past piles of snow and frosty benches
Despite the fact that the sight of coyote in such a busy, metropolitan city might seem unusual, there have actually been plenty of sightings over the years.
Since 2016 around 126 sightings have occurred, with 34 just last year.
There is an established population in Bronx parks.
Beny told CBS New York about his encounter on February 8: ‘I saw the coyote coming up the hill. I keep recording and it keeps walking, and then it stopped again and looked at me again, which was really cool.’
He added that initially he thought it was a big dog and thought: ‘How is it possible that there’s a coyote in Central Park?’
Carole Tyler, a Bergen County Animal Control Officer, told CBS: ‘It’s got a great coat, it’s not skinny. Looks pretty healthy to me.’
The coyote was seen again on February 12 by photographer Ben Shyman, who took these photos of the animal sheltering in the snow by the lake
Shyman took multiple photos of the relaxed animal who appeared to be taking a break in the park, curled up in the snow
In Shyman’s photos you can see the animal’s healthy coat, which park officials says was a good sign that it would not be harmful to humans
She added that as a result of its health and ‘normal’ behavior it was not considered a threat to humans.
‘Natural food sources like duck and geese that are being fed and are well fed, nice and plump right now, to garbage from humans who’ve been in the park,’ Tyler said. ‘They’re not there to chase humans.’
The New York City Parks Department said in a statement that ‘there is only one coyote and no reason to believe the population increased.’
They added: ‘Many are surprised to learn that a coyote hangs out in Central Park from time to time. New Yorkers should not be concerned.’
New Yorker Dash Clemente told CBS: ‘I just thought it was funny because they said don’t feed it, don’t pet it.’
David Barrett who runs the Twitter account, Manhattan Bird Alert, tweeted about the sightings.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A COYOTE
Never run away from a coyote or it will likely chase, The Humane Society of the United States advises.
Stand tall, wave your arms, and yell at the coyote, approaching them if necessary, until they run away.
Noisemakers: Voice, whistles, air horns, bells, ‘shaker’ cans full of marbles or pennies, pots, lid or pie pans banged together
Projectiles: sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls or rubber balls
Other: hoses, water guns with vinegar water, spray bottles with vinegar water, pepper spray or bear repellent.
He told The New York Post: ‘It’s not something people commonly see. It’s a rarity, they’re great at avoiding people. It’s a rare and wonderful sighting.’
In 2017, residents in New York suburb, Rockland County, were warned to stay away from a coyote-wolf hybrid wandering their neighborhoods.
The creature is known as a ‘coywolf’ and is a ‘mixture of a coyote and a wolf’, Clarkstown Police Officer Peter Walker told CBS.
The Clarkstown Police Department posted a photo of the coywolf on its official Facebook page on Monday, informing Rockland County residents it was spotted early that morning in Congers.
In 2015, police captured a coyote who led them on a chase through downtown New York City.
Cops began following the wild animal after it was spotted scurrying through Battery Park City at 6am, The New York Post reported.
Officers trailed it on foot and in patrol cars as it ran across roads and dipped between cars.
They then managed to corner it at Merchants River House on South End Avenue and shot it with a tranquilizer dart, the Post reported.
It was then put in a cage and taken away into the care of the ASPCA.