The history of coyotes in New York is surprisingly muddy. One thing for certain, however, is that you can almost always count on them to show up where you least expect.

Scientists still can't agree on how coyotes came to live in the Empire State. The most likely hypothesis is that they began to migrate from the central United States to the northeast in the 1930s and 40s, although other experts believe they've been here since before European settlers even made landfall. But what about the ones recently caught on camera?

Cat Wrangler Rescue, Inc. via Facebook
Cat Wrangler Rescue, Inc. via Facebook

Coyotes Spotted in Long Island

"Coyote alert! THREE Eastern Coyotes at 3:00 am. DO NOT leave cats out at night, or preferably at all! Watch your dogs at all times!" came a recent post from a cat rescue organization on Long Island. What may come as a surprise to many, however, is that coyotes have been calling the area home for years.

Coyotes in New York City and Long Island, NY

Though rare, coyotes are occasionally spotted in both New York City and Long Island. While the wild canines are usually associated with forest habitats, suburban or even urban areas can also be suitable. From the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC):

Coyotes, commonly believed to live only in the more rural or wild parts of New York, readily adapt to living close to people. Occasionally, they are sighted in parts of New York City and Long Island. As unlikely as it may seem, human development makes surprisingly good coyote habitat.

What Brings Coyotes Out of the Forest

The main culprit that has been luring coyotes out of more wild habitats is the ease of access to human food. Similar to black bears in New York and New Jersey who have become increasingly comfortable investigating more populated areas, coyotes can be equally opportunistic.

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Coyote Populations in New York

Coyote populations are healthy across New York state, with the NYS DEC offering an open season on their harvest. Those looking to keep coyotes out of their own backyards should never leave out trash or food, and should keep pets indoors at night when coyotes are most active.

Stunning Photos Capture Toy Thief Coyote Playing Just Like a Dog

Stunning Photos Capture Toy Thief Coyote Playing Just Like a Dog

Gallery Credit: Credit - Polly McAdams

"Wait, There's More!" 'Lions and Tigers and Bears (Oh My)' at These 15 Great Upstate New York Zoos

This is a list of many Upstate zoos, animal sanctuaries, animal rescue farms, and adventure parks where the whole family can visit and get close to nature and mingle with some of the most impressive animals anywhere.

Gallery Credit: Chuck D'Imperio