Yellowstone Buffalo: Don’t Worry, If You Visit, You’ll See Plenty of ’em

baby bison

It wasn’t enough to see bison, we wanted to see them doing something. They delivered. Over six days in the park my husband David and I got to see bison nursing calves, herds blocking the road, bulls ramming each other, using their horns and mouth to strip bark off trees and tons of grazing or napping

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Is the Noose Closing on the Central Park Coyote?

Update: 1010 Wins has amazing video of the coyote giving cops the slip around 23rd Street around 3 a.m. last night. That means he headed south instead of his usual north. Cops chased him–while someone shouted Let him go! Let him go! Then he was spotted heading back up to 57th Street, probably the Hallett Nature Preserve, where he’s been sleeping in Central Park.

The coyote (really a coywolf) continues to prowl around Central Park, despite what he hear are efforts to trap and euthanize him. I went up to Central Park last night to catch a glimpse. I got nothing. But Bruce Yolton tracked him out of the Hallett Nature Preserve, where he sleeps during the day, and through a circuitous path of the lower park, avoiding people. I called the Department of Environmental Conservation, but so far haven’t heard back about their plans.

The state DEC is trying to capture the coyote and euthanize him to test for rabies, which is infecting raccoons in the northern part of the park, one wildlife rehabilitator told us. Killing an animal is the only sure way to find out quickly whether it has rabies. Or you could just wait and see if he gets sick. This rehabber is qualified to take the coyote in for a quarantine period (10 days) so he wouldn’t have to be killed, but so far the DEC hasn’t given the okay. If someone just so happens to catch the coyote and bring it to

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Central Park Coyote Faces Death Despite Offer of Reprieve

The coyote that’s been living discreetly in Central Park for the last month is now on wildlife officials‘ hitlist. Fearing rabies, the Department of Environmental Conservation is trying to trap the coyote and euthanize it, wildlife rehabilitators familiar with the case say. That’s too bad because local rehabbers have offered an alternative: They’re willing to put the coyote in the standard 10-day quarantine, then find a suitable release site outside the city.

In the past, the DEC has trapped coyotes and at least made an effort to release them. (Hal, the 2006 coyote, died from stress, rat poison and heartworm, according to the necropsy.) What’s different this time is there is widespread rabies in the raccoon population in upper Manhattan, especially the north woods of Central Park, where the coyote trots after spending the day sleeping in the isolated Hallett Nature Preserve near 57th Street and 6th Avenue.

[youtube=]These animals aren’t exactly making a reappearance in Manhattan after being vanquished for centuries. They are a slightly different species than ever lived here before; they aren’t really coyotes, which live out west, but coywolves–a hybrid of versatile, small western coyotes and the gray wolves that were hunted out of the east. Jon Way, a biologist at Eastern Coyote Research, is pushing for them to be classified as a native species since they weren’t introduced by humans and are the natural product of canines evolving to survive in the habitat altered by humans.

Coywolves are now established across the eastern U.S.,

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Central Park’s Elusive Coywolf

Coywolf Hill

Coywolf Hill,This is the kind of distant, lousy glimpse of the Central Park Coywolf you’ll get after much effort.In other words, he’s not bothering anyone. To see much better pictures, check out Urban Hawks.

Last night I got to see a coywolf in Central Park. I went at dusk to see the coyote Bruce Yolton has been tracking at urbanhawks. After an hour of walking in the slush around the pond near 57th Street, I got to see him or her for a few minutes. So, it’s not as if he’s marauding joggers or stealing hot dogs from vendors. But the big question is whether somebody’s going to panic and demand his capture. Or really,  knowing New York, when.

As Yolton has pointed out on Urban Hawks, his excellent photoblog of NYC wildlife, the coyote seems to be sleeping during the day in the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, the only part of the park off limits to people and dogs, which is surrounded by water and fence. Once again, I didn’t have to be a good enough spotter to see the coyote in the dark, just good enough to see Yolton with his massive lens and tripod. The coyote lurked by the pond edge, then headed back up the sanctuary’s hill, where he could have been seen by anybody on 57th Street. Then he gave us the slip. He’s been spotted in the north end of the park, too.

This coywolf, or perhaps others, have been spotted in Manhattan all

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Coyote Filmed Playing Ice Hockey With Bottle in Central Park

Wildlife photographer Bruce Yolton, who runs the Urban Hawks blog, shot a video Monday night of a coyote (well, really a coywolf) playing hockey with an empty bottle on the pond near the southeast corner of Central Park. That’s right, the coyote coyote who was up at Columbia University earlier this month maybe went further south in the park, right on the edge of midtown and the Plaza Hotel. You can see the coyote lick the bottle, as if hoping for a last drop of food. And he’s close enough to the street that you can see emergency lights flashing on the ice.


Yolton is known for stalking the park at all hours and getting incredible wildlife shots–often keeping them secret for months so he doesn’t attract crowds that disturb wildlife. He’d reported in early February that a coyote was in the park. He thinks this coyote may have discovered the peninsula that sticks out into the pond and is a preserve.

Often when a species is off wandering on its own, it’s a young male looking for new territory. In March 2006 another young male coyote made a media spectacle of himself in Central Park; one year old Hal was finally caught, then died in captivity from a combination of stress, heartworm and rat poison. Let’s hope this one quietly makes it back to the Bronx.

Where to See Wolves and Coywolves

How You Can See Wild Animals Even in New York City

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Score One for Team Squirrel

The Tompkins Square Park squirrels bravely stand up to the new, popular red-tailed hawk pair on the Lower East Side. The hawks appearance on Saturday Night Live doesn’t intimidate them, either. The squirrels know that if they are in a tree, the hawks can’t swoop down and catch them.

So if the hawk lands in a tree the squirrels eagerly do their part to chase him off. They’re in the anti-hawk union with crows and jays, who mob the raptors. Because they all know if they don’t, the hawk will eventually catch one of them.

The squirrel can do considerable damage to a hawk by biting its feet, which may then become infected. The squirrel made the hawk uncomfortable enough to go back on its heels, change branches, then fly off. He flew to another tree, where another member of the anti-hawk union started to drive him away.

Where to See Hawks and Eagles

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NYC Squirrel TARDIS Restored to Proper Dimensions

The TARDIS squirrel house

The wily squirrels of New York City’s Tompkins Square Park apparently knew all too well that a TARDIS is supposed to be bigger on the inside than the outside. They overstuffed their Dr. Who-themed squirrel box so much that the side door pushed out. The Tardis we put up a few years ago is a popular squirrel house, as overstuffing and gnawing on the roof and entrance testifies.

So on an unseasonably warm winter day, brave architect Jeff Cole climbed an enormously tall ladder to tidy up the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). Jeff also restored it to its proper dimensions. All is right in the universe.

Find the Best Places to See SquirrelsSee a Map of Other Places you Can See Wild Animals in New York City

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Get a Glimpse of Native Illinois Wildlife on their Winter Break–Join the Wildlife Prairie State Park

Bison family

Mother Bison directing traffic,originally uploaded by Todd Ryburn.

Just a couple hours west of Chicago a herd of bison is taking the winter off from delighting kids. Wildlife Prairie State Park–a unique combination of wildlife center, praire re-enactment and park–closes for the winter.

The animals in big herds, the elk and bison, are taken off public display to give their summer pastures a rest, says park spokesperson Kelly Stickelmaier. The enclosures (80 acres for the elk) are big enough to approximate a natural setting, but not so huge you can’t see them. (Just check the park’s very active flickr group and you can see how much of the animals visitors can see.)

The park’s 18 bison are especially cooperative, coming up to the viewing stand, where they’re fed at 1 o’clock.  “The elk are a little more persnickety, especially the boys,” Stickelmaier says. Because the bison herd reproduces, the park sells off however many are born each year to keep the total at 18.

Badger at WPSP,originally uploaded by Mark Koonce.

I don’t think I’ve seen another wildlife park that has badgers–and, believe me, I’ve looked. They’ve also have otters, eagles that came in through wildlife rehabilitation, skunks, bobcats and cougars.

Philantrhopist Will Rutherford started the park in 1978 mainly as a kind of rehab area for animals from the Brookfield Zoo. The park eventually shifted to native animals, then Rutherford gave the park to the state in 2000.

 Rutherford’s family’s Forest Park Foundation still supports the park, the Peoria Journal-Star says, but it can’t make

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Wildparks All Over Germany and Europe

When I was in Germany a few weeks ago I got to visit Saarbrücken Wildpark, which confused me. In the middle of a forest were huge pens for native animals. No addmission charge, just come on in, enjoy the animals or the woods. I wondered how this place could survive if the animals weren’t producing food.

“By the way, the animals are not supposed to be eaten!” says Michael Wagner, head of Saarbrucken’s forestry department. All the Germans I mentioned this to were equally appalled at my assumption.

The animals are there neither to be rescued nor eaten, but just for people to enjoy. “The Wildpark is intended as a greenbelt recreation area for the citizens of Saarbrücken, especially for families with children,” he says. They also have a geology-themed trail. Even though the center isn’t set up specifically for animal welfare, they do sometimes take in a few orphans, Wagner says. And they are part of the important project to recover the wisent. Only one herd of the European bison was left in the Polish woods after World War II, but there are now several thousand because of an elaborately managed breeding exchange program across Europe.

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It’s fantastic that Germans and other Europeans have recognized that native animals in their natural environment (or a close enough approximation) are just fun to see. I wish we had wildparks here. The wildparks are all over the place. ZooInfos lists 144 native wildlife parks in Germany; 29 in Austria and 16 in Switzerland.

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Adirondack Garbage Dumps & Bears

Garbage dumps in the Adirondacks only a few years ago used to draw huge crowds to see black bears, but someone thought better of the idea and closed them off.

When I was fishing around for places in New York to reliably see animals for a story for New York, a guy from the state Department of Environmental Protection told me the garbage dumps in the Adirondacks were the most reliable place to see bear. When I visited the Adirondacks last week I asked the woman who rented us the cottage. Much to my surprise, she was all over the garbage dumb scene.

Just a few years ago dozens of people would show up at the garbage dumps, presumably at dusk, to see the bears. Sometimes the crowd would be thirty people, with the ranger feeding the bear a marshmallow on a stick.

Of course, the current thinking is that this kind of thing is exactly what leads to bear conflicts. A fed bear is a dead bear. Bears grow start associating people with food. Yellowstone Park once had similar, much more formal bear feeding stations, where they would dump the garbage and let tourists watch the bears.

Where to See Animals in the NortheastWhere to See Bears

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