And yet, the first coyote ever to be collected on Long Island will soon be added to the collection of the Museum’s Mammalogy Department
. It’s easy to forget that Long Island is truly an island, separated from mainland New York by water. So this animal, which was hit and killed by a vehicle on the Cross Island Parkway in Queens and recovered by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, likely had a difficult journey through urban sprawl and over water to get there.
Coyotes expanded their range from the Midwest about 150 years ago, through newly cleared agricultural areas that mimicked their natural plains habitat. They have continued to adapt to suburban and even urban conditions, often unnoticed by their human neighbors.
Weckel has been studying this expansion of coyote range as part of a program called the Gotham Coyote Project, a collaboration between researchers from the Museum and the Mianus River Gorge in Bedford, NY.