Archive for April, 2015


NYC Lens, April 29th, 2015

FULL TEXT:

Coyotes are popping up across the city–on a roof, behind a bush and sitting doe-eyed in a crate after being captured by the New York City Police Department. Their presence might seem unusual to city residents, but the coyotes are just a local chapter of a country-wide trend of urban coyotes.

In the past decade, as human development encroaches on the natural habitat of coyotes, many of the animals have moved into urban areas. Another factor: Their natural predator, the gray wolf, has become an endangered species in the last three years, allowing the coyote population to expand its borders. Scientists call this natural range expansion.

“We have to accept the fact that natural range expansion is part of the ecology of wildlife globally,” Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote, said. “Natural range expansion is exactly what’s happening, and some of this is in response to alteration of habitat.”

Project Coyote is a California-based organization that seeks to destigmatize coyotes. The group promotes peaceful coexistence with coyotes through conversations with wildlife scientists, ranchers, educators and community leaders. The organization provides several resources to help the public better understand and interact with coyotes.

In New York state alone, there are 14,500 breeding pairs of coyotes. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, coyotes began moving into the state in the 1930s. Instead of living in packs, like some of their West coast relatives, eastern coyotes tend to live in pairs. All coyotes mate for life.

One common misconception Project Coyote hopes to dispel is that coyotes are dangerous.

“Your chances of being bitten or attacked by a coyote are incredibly low,” she said.

Though there is not a centralized way to keep track of coyote attacks, Fox said that anecdotally, there are relatively few coyote attacks on humans compared to dog bites, which average about 1,000 per day.

Urban coyotes have inspired creative initiatives like the Urban Coyote Project, a collaboration between three journalists–Jaymi Heimbuch, Morgan Heim and Karine Aigner–with an affinity for canines. Each based in a different city, the journalists learn the habits of local urban coyotes and photograph them, posting photo galleries along with information from wildlife scientists to help spread correct information about coyotes.

“When we understand more, we can coexist easier and fear less,” Heimbuch, founder of the project, said.

Heimbuch and her colleagues were inspired by how adaptive and cunning species is. She hopes to expand their project to include both a film and a book.

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation recommends several tips for “coexisting with coyotes” based on Project Coyote’s guidelines. Residents are encouraged not to feed the animals so they do not become accustomed to humans, safely store food and garbage in animal-proof receptacles, keep dogs leashed while outside, keep cats indoors, and scare off coyotes if a coyote approaches you in a park or a neighborhood.

Project Coyote also recommends “hazing” the coyotes by making yourself appear large and loud by shouting, waving your arms and flashing lights until the coyote retreats. If residents come across a coyote who is not responding to this or if someone is bitten or hurt, call 9-1-1.

The final recommendation from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is to appreciate the animals from a distance.

“They have shown to be incredibly resilient and able to coexist with us and tolerate human disturbance,” Fox said. “We haven’t shown that kind of tolerance for the species.”

There are more people bitten by dogs than coyotes. Don’t you think this might be because dogs live with people and coyotes don’t?

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Wall Street Journal, April 23rd, 2015

FULL TEXT:

Wildlife experts said New Yorkers might as well get accustomed to seeing more coyotes after two of the animals were spotted recently in Manhattan.

A coyote gave New York City police officers the slip Wednesday in Riverside Park near the site of Grant’s Tomb. Last week, another coyote was captured in Chelsea.

As the animals continue breeding in the woodland areas of the Bronx, younger coyotes are forced to stake out their own territories to the south, wildlife experts said.

“I do believe it will become a more frequent part of our spring and late fall to see them in Manhattan,” said Mark Weckel, a conservation biologist at the American Museum of Natural History and co-founder of the Gotham Coyote Project, which studies coyotes in New York City.

In addition to the two recently spotted in Manhattan, coyotes have been seen in New Jersey’s Bergen County: One person was bitten in Norwood and another in Saddle River.

Coyotes are common in suburban areas like Norwood, and are found in every county in the state, said Lawrence Hajna, a spokesman for New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

“They are a very adaptable creature,” Mr. Hajna said.

The animals have been in the state since at least 1939, he said.

Coyotes were first spotted in New York state in the 1920s, Mr. Weckel said. In the 1940s, coyotes entered the state from its northern border, and during the 1960s, they started coming from the west, he said.

Coyotes made it to Westchester County by the 1970s, and Mr. Weckel said they were first verified in the Bronx during the 1990s.

Coyotes have been known to breed in parks in the Bronx, but there has been no confirmed breeding in other parts of the city or on Long Island, Mr. Weckel said.

Coyotes feed on rodents, deer, rabbits and fruit.

“When the young become mature, they are basically pushed out of their territory” by their parents, said Joe Pane, principal fish and wildlife biologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

As coyotes run out of available territories in the wooded areas of Westchester County and the Bronx, many travel along the Hudson River or even down the tracks of the Metro-North Railroad in search of their own territory in Manhattan.

“It’s been confirmed there are breeding pairs in a number of [Bronx] parks and that’s consistent with this theory that this population of coyotes really have been expanding in New York state and moving southward since like the 1930s,” said Sarah Aucoin, director of the Urban Park Rangers with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.

“New York [City] is at the southern end of New York state, so it sort of makes sense they would be last to arrive here in the state,” she said.

Coyotes have grown adept at surviving in other big-city environments, such as Chicago.

In 2006, there were an estimated 2,000 coyotes living in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, according to Stanley Gehrt, associate professor at the Ohio State University’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, who has been studying coyotes around the Chicago area for 15 years.

That number is higher now, he says.

“Once they got established in the nooks and crannies of the metro area, they responded quickly to available food and water and the relative safety in the city,” Mr. Gehrt said.

New York state and New York City don’t have population estimates for coyotes.

“Speak” is a young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, it is not a new book, it was first published in 1999. And this is not a review of the book, that will be on my other blog. In fact, this post has a spoiler in it so if you haven’t read the book and are planning to, you might want to not read this post. This is a chance for me to get on my soapbox about my favorite topic to get on my soapbox about, violence against women.

Melinda Sordino’s freshman year is off to a horrible start. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends — and even strangers — all hate her. Months pass and things aren’t getting better. She’s a pariah. The lowest of the low. Avoided by everyone. But eventually, she’ll reveal what happened at the party. And when she finally speaks the truth, everything will change.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know what happened at the party. In fact I knew before I read a review of the book with a spoiler that told me what happened that Melinda had been the victim of some sort of sexual assault, either rape or attempted rape, probably by a popular boy. What I didn’t understand when I was reading the book was why no one knew what happened, they all knew she called the police but not why. I was expecting that she was a pariah because she had claimed she was raped at the party but no one believed her, but no one knew why she called the police. The reason (here’s the spoiler) was because when the police got there, she ran away and didn’t talk to them. Of course then, you might ask, if she didn’t talk to the police then how did everybody know she called the police? I don’t remember that being explained. It’s really the only thing in the book that doesn’t make sense. It did not detract from the impact the book has had on its reading audience.

This book has an interview with the author in the back. I didn’t really read it, just kind of skimmed through it, one question and answer caught my attention:

Have any readers ever asked questions that shocked you?

I have gotten one question repeatedly from young men. These are guys who liked the book, but they are honestly confused. They ask me why Melinda was so upset about being raped.

She admits she was horrified, as she kept getting the question over and over she realized that many young men are not being taught the impact that sexual assault has on a women. I would go a step further and say a lot of young men don’t truly understand what rape actually entails. “Lots of Men Don’t Think Rape is Rape“. I keep reading on social media that we need to talk to our girls and boys about rape, tell girls how to protect themselves and boy to not rape. Parents need to do more. They need to educate their children, boys and girls, about what exactly rape is and why it is wrong. Boys can’t understand the emotional impact of rape unless someone explains it to them. Realize I am speaking in generalities here, I know there are some very aware young men.

Rape is a crime of violence and woman can feel it. Even when their life wasn’t threatened women report being afraid they would be killed. Some men don’t realize they are a threat to women simply because they are bigger and stronger than the woman. Also the way the ‘definition of rape’ has changed and the fact that many men are starting a ‘mens movement’, just makes me more afraid.

O.K. that’s all I can think of right now. Getting off my soapbox.

It was a while ago. Not a super long time but not recent. What color is the dress? It went viral as they say, to the point that a scientist wrote an article about why some people saw one color and some saw another. Even though much attention was brought to it, I never paid it much attention.

One day this week, on the subway, I was standing next to this woman, she was talking to a girl that was sitting down looking at her phone. It looked like mother daughter, so that’s how I’ll write it. The daughter asked her mother to look at a picture on her phone, the first time it was too dark, so the girl adjusted something and showed it to her mother again. I glanced down, it was ‘the dress’. “What color is it?” the daughter asks, “Blue and black” the mother says, the daughter agrees. I looked at the exact same image as the woman, I saw a white and gold dress.

MIND. BLOWN.

Back to the train

This morning’s commute was bad. I confess most of it was my fault. 

First I overslept my alarm. I had a headache and sat around waiting for the Aleve to kick in, by the time I got to the subway I knew I wouldn’t make it in time, but then … People were running up the stairs screaming – there’s a man on the track! – They seemed to be mad at the man in the booth, but what could he do? He grabbed the phone as soon as he could. 

So I got on the bus. Limited so it only went as far as 68th, I needed to go to 59th. I walked it, then got on the “R” train, which is not the right train. I got off the train at Queens Plaza to catch the E to Court Square, instead I got on the M and ended up … back at Lexington and 59th. Which is weird, cause I didn’t think the M stopped there. From there I got on the right train an went to work. Only 2 hours late.