July 14, 2008

Coyote Pup Found In The Bronx

By Matthew Chayes

What would constitute child neglect, if not downright abuse, for a human baby might be the kindest thing that can be done for the young coyote found wandering last week in the Bronx. That's the task facing a Middle Island wildlife rehabilitator: toughening up the pup for its possible release back into the wild.

Step one? Caging the coyote in solitary confinement for evaluation.

"You don't talk to them. You don't pet them. You don't try to make friends with them," said Lori Ketcham, director of Save the Animals Rescue Foundation, who has the coyote isolated on her property. "You basically try to leave them alone."

The 13-pound coyote was found Wednesday near Van Cortlandt Park, in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Because the animal is in relatively good condition, largely free of parasites like fleas, Ketcham said she suspects it had been kept -- illegally -- as a pet.

Within three months, a group of a half-dozen wildlife rehabilitators will decide whether the pup is wild, tough and ferocious enough to be released on its own.

"It's mainly going to be his personality," Ketcham said of the 6-month-old coyote. "If he starts getting crazy ...and showing an inclination to hunt, then he's better suited to go back into the wild."

Then the coyote will be brought to another wildlife rehabilitator, where the animal will be taught to feed on live prey, she said.

"He'd have to be taught how to hunt," she said, by "throwing live stuff in with them.

And if he's a meek milquetoast?

"If he sits there waiting for his food to be served in a bowl ...and he shows no interest in live prey, then he's got a long road to go."

In that case, the coyote would become an "educational" animal -- and work as a kind of show-and-tell coyote.

This story was supplemented with an Associated Press report.


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