NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Visitors to Central Park may be keeping an eye out for something wild, after the Parks Department confirmed that at least one coyote has been spending time there.
CBS2's Tara Jakeway was on the lookout on Tuesday. There is no photographic evidence of the coyote, but that doesn't seem to matter to some New Yorkers. The confirmation of a sighting is enough to stop some people in their tracks.
"It's kind shocking to hear that the coyote would be here because it's near the road and the dogs," Skip Lievsay said.
"Coyotes in the park? Are they big? I know we're in a park, but I'm a city boy. To me, it's kind of weird," added James Ravenell of Harlem.
"Wow, we have the real natural world right here in New York City. I didn't know. That's surprising," said Marilyn Williams, who lives along Central Park West.
Lievsay said news of a coyote spotting spread fast in his building near West 80th Street, which overlooks the park. Many of his neighbors have already lined up a coyote run-in strategy.
"Grab the dog and just stay away," Lievsay said.
Many of them said they are concerned, primarily, about their puppies.
"We consider this whole stretch here to be the dog place. Because everyone brings their dogs here morning, noon and night," Lievsay said.
Jakeway scoured the west side of the park in the CBS2 Mobile Weather Lab and spotted plenty of those dog walkers, bikers, and runners, all that share similar concerns about the wild animals.
Upper West Side resident Ethan Aiken runs with his friend in the park every morning. He said he knows coyotes have a leg up on him.
"Yeah, I think she can, but I'll get left behind," Aiken said when asked the prospects of him outrunning a coyote.
When asked what she would do if she saw a coyote, Arielle Friedman of New Rochelle said, "Run the other way."
Coyotes typically prey on small rodents and squirrels. The Parks Department is asking that New Yorkers report a sighting if it is a clear threat to public safety. It said there have been a total of 62 coyote sightings reported citywide since 2016 and 36 reported since Dec. 15 in the borough of Manhattan alone.
The Parks Department said it cannot confirm how many were submitted from Central Park as people are not required to list an exact location, and it has no way of tracking numbers because multiple reports could be for the same coyote.
The agency said if you cross paths with wild animals in New York City, respect them the same way you would any other New Yorker, and give them plenty of space, which may be easier said than done during the busy holiday season.
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