For coyotes, LI was the final frontier. (Getty Images)

Coyotes are ingrained in our culture.

We’ve all spent time in front of the TV laughing in disbelief at the stupidity of that Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote who can’t catch Road Runner, no matter how many ways he tries. It always ends up bad for Coyote, doesn’t it?

Well in reality, the name “Wily” is an apt one for a coyote, as they are one of the smartest animals in North America. They are shrewd, elusive, canny, skilled survivors that have been in North America since the time mastodons roamed the western plains. The systematic eradication of their natural predators, wolves and big cats, have allowed coyote numbers to skyrocket, and given their inquisitive roaming nature, their range grew from the American West and Southwest in the early 1900s to the lower 48 states by the turn of the century.

Long Island with its natural barriers was one of the last places in America coyotes did not call home. But guess what? Yes, coyotes have been spotted on LI enough times to declare this last stretch of land part of their territory. Sightings have been made on the North Fork, on the Gold Coast, and in Searingtown, a breeding population made a den near Laguardia International Airport.

It’s hard to know exactly how they arrived, but I would think the many bridges and tunnels connecting the Island to the mainland have added a new meaning to the concept of E-ZPass.

Coyotes weigh in between 30 to 70 pounds and have a long snout and big bushy tail, so they should be easy to spot — yet few people have seen them. There is no need to panic and not let the kids out as attacks on humans are rare, but some of our pets would make easy prey for this cunning predator.

They also have been known to hybridize with domestic dogs, resulting in a wider range of colors and sizes, so there are many reasons to keep your precious Fifi on a short leash. Efforts to eradicate them in other urban and suburban areas nationwide have been unsuccessful, so it appears they are here to stay.

Wile E. Coyote indeed! Beep! Beep!

Jungle Bob’s Reptile World is located at 984 Middle Country Rd. in Selden. They can be reached at junglebobsreptileworld.com 631-737-6474.

 

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