Have you heard? There are coyotes in New York! Coyotes! They have been seen in our fair city’s green spaces, such as Central Park, prowling — all coyote-like — around Harlem and near Columbia University with their hungry, coyote eyes and bared, coyote fangs.
Now, scientists say that these carnivorous canines are pretty much harmless, and could actually be a good thing for NYC ecology, with one scientist telling the New York Times: “What happens is that when there’s a top predator, it will help control other levels of the food chain.”
But don’t be lulled into a sense of false security: while old myths about coyote bites turning humans into werecoyotes probably aren’t true, you should generally avoid petting packs of wild animals. However, if you live here, it’s very likely that you have forgotten basic outdoorsy common sense. Runnin’ Scared has put together brief survival guide to overcoming New York’s wild beasts.
(Disclaimer: These tips might or might not actually work.)
These undomesticated dogs don’t usually attack people, but one survival-minded blogger, Rich Johnson, suggests that the best defense for people is to travel in packs — just like their (unlikely) would-be predators:
“I know that violates some peoples’ sense of what the wilderness is all about — going out alone to ponder the solitude — and if that’s the case, I wish you well. But if you want to increase your safety, travel in pairs or small groups. This pertains not only to wildlife-related safety, but to all issues of safety.
If you absolutely must travel alone, my suggestion is that you arm yourself with something more lethal than your soft fingernails. At least give yourself a fighting chance.”
An apparently unsigned wikiHow article, which might or might not be accurate (thanks, internet!) takes a more aggressive approach: if the coyote snatches an infant or small animal, the author suggests grabbing the coyote by its tail, and kicking it in the ribs to gain the defensive upperhand — which sounds like some Liam Neeson shit (and might or might not be the right thing to do…)
Sure, pigeons can make great, loving pets. But they’re certainly not bird-brained: Pigeons have worked as military spies! And they have beens said to attack people from time to time. The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook franchise has some advice for avian aggression. If you hear “hovering and clacking,” duck! The birds are about to attack and will take aim at your head and shoulders with their beaks and wings. To protect yourself, cover your ears, close your eyes, and run from “nesting and foraging” areas. How you are supposed to run with closed eyes remains unclear.
Make no mistake: These rodents will go out of their way to sink their teeth into your flesh. Today’s rats probably won’t bring the plague to New York, but a rat wound is nothing to laugh at. Some species carry leptospirosis and Hantavirus germs in their saliva! The CDC reports that rats and mice carry over 35 pathogens. Since it’s seemingly impossible to avoid or successfully do battle with rats — they’ll survive anything and everything, even poison — your best bet is probably to go to a doctor and get antibiotics if a rat bites you.
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.