Awoooooo! If you’ve been hearing howling lately, it’s not just because you’ve watched too many Twilight movies. According to reports, Eastern coyotes have been slowly taking up residence in New York parks for years now, and it looks like these savvy predators are set on becoming bona fide New Yorkers. In fact, with so many sightings in various city parks over the past few years, researchers from the Gotham Coyote Project have been tracking and studying the movements of the enigmatic animals’ colonization of the city.

Coyotes Gotham Coyote Project

According to The New York Times, one coyote was captured by local police in Riverside Park in mid-January. This was followed by another sighting in Stuyvesant Town on the East Side and recently, coyote tracks were spotted in Pelham Bay Park. Park officials have confirmed that various coyote families have been living in the local parks all over the city.

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Although park officials have received numerous calls from anxious local residents after spotting the coyotes, they don’t plan to take much action. “They are here, and here to stay,” said Sarah Grimké Aucoin, the director of the Urban Park Rangers. “They are occupying a niche not held by any other predator, and they perform services like controlling rodent populations.”

Although the Parks Department has decided to leave the animals alone for the time being, researchers for the Gotham Coyote Project have been studying the Eastern coyotes’ colonization of NYC and Long Island since 2011. By setting up motion sensor cameras in various parks and luring the animals with a small cheese-scented disc, researchers have been able to observe the coyotes in their new habitats. According to the team’s research, the most active area is the Bronx, specifically in Pelham Bay Park and Van Cortlandt Park.

Chris Nagy, the director of research and land management at the Mianus River Gorge in Bedford, N.Y., founded the coyote project with Mark Weckel, a conservation biologist who is the manager of the Science Research Mentoring Program at the American Museum of Natural History. Nagy explains that the team had caught a number of young coyotes emerging from the Bronx area parks. “The finding of pups at new places is the key, but seeing them in action is really good,” he said. “They are behaving pretty naturally because the family of coyotes doesn’t know we’re taking pictures.”

+ Gotham Coyote Project

Via The NY Times

Images via the Gotham Coyote Project