Coyotes and seals in the Bronx, red foxes in Queens, owls in Brooklyn, raccoons, hawks and squirrels in Manhattan: an abundant and often unsuspected wildlife lives in New York under the shadow of skyscrapers.  But the cohabitation between 8.5 million human beings and millions of wild animals from more than 600 species is not always easy in the first American metropolis: the New Yorkers, tired of concrete and traffic jams, will gladly enjoy this fauna … until they see a coyote devouring a cat or a pet rabbit, a deer feeding on organic tomato plants or a raccoon rummaging through the garbage.
These 30 In recent years, the wild animal population in New York has steadily increased, with new green spaces – in a city with a total of over 11,000 hectares – where hunting is prohibited. and natural predators absent, explains Jason Munshi-South.
After studying primates in Borneo and the impact of oil production on elephants in Gabon, this biology professor from Fordham University became an expert on New York animal life.
According to him, there are thousands of raccoons in New York today – about a hundred in Central Park – a few thousand deer and about fifty coyotes, mostly in the Bronx. Not to mention marine animals: seals have re-emerged on the rocks of Pelham Bay, in the north-east of the Bronx, and whales are sometimes seen in Queens waters.
The town is also working on the protection of the Piping Plover on Rockaway Beach, close to JFK Airport, where this bird comes to nest in the spring. It is still considered an endangered species by US authorities, although the Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is more optimistic since its population is increasing again, thanks to an active preservation policy. 19659002] – "A coyote has seen you!" –
"You have not seen a coyote, but a coyote has seen you!" says Kayla Mackey, Van Cortlandt park ranger, in the Bronx, to residents who have come on a Sunday to attend a workshop called "Living with Urban Coyotes."
25-year-old Ms. Mackey explains to them that they do not have nothing to fear from coyotes, even if the latter, which move especially at night, are difficult to see. The best is to stay at a distance and not feed them, she says. In case one of them approaches, she advises to waving her arms.
After a little topo, the group of adults and children sets off in search of coyotes, or at least their footprints or droppings. "Coyotes do not eat men," says Mackey, twins in the neck "
" We need to give people the means to better coexist with wildlife. "If we do not know that there are 2,000 deer to Staten Island and we drive too fast, we can overthrow one, "said AFP Richard Simon, director of wildlife for the City Hall of New York.
The city has created a unit dedicated to the end of 2016 and has already sterilized about 95% of the Staten Island male deer population, some 1,100 animals, according to Mr. Simon estimates.
"When there are problems, in general it is the people, not animals, "says Jason Munshi-South, the biology teacher. "The best is to leave them alone."
– All New Yorkers –
"The city is big enough for everyone," says Richard Simon. Sometimes people call to ask for animals to be brought back (elsewhere) to the wild, he says. "But there's nowhere to take them in. They live here now."
If someone gets scared at the sight of a coyote and calls for emergencies, the police have an obligation to intervene. The police then try to capture him and sometimes kill him.
The cohabitation with wildlife is regularly the subject of campaigns in the subway and on bus shelters: one recently showed pictures of animals – deer , coyotes, plovers – with the slogan "The inhabitants of the city take various forms." Another simply reminded them not to feed these animals.
"There is no reason to give a squirrel hot dog or pretzel", the first bite makers in New York, says Mr. Simon.
they are fed, animals lose their instinctive fear of the human being; they can also start to bite; and Central Park raccoons sometimes go after strollers to try to open their bag, says Munshi-South.
Despite these problems of cohabitation, authorities and experts argue the benefits of living in a city where wild animals live in freedom
"Some are surprised and say they thought there were only rats in New York," says Jason Munshi-South. "But sometimes, when you work in the parks in summer, it's hot and there are mosquitoes", it's almost like being in an exotic country, he says.
lbc / cat / ak