Long Island barber howls at local coyotes to save them

By Lauren Steussy

January 1, 2017 | 6:42am

Long Island barber howls at local coyotes to save them
Frank Vincenti Stefano Giovannini

When Frank Vincenti heard the sound of a coyote howling on the night of Nov. 7, he knew his efforts had failed.

Staked out in his car at a baseball field about 100 feet away, Vincenti — a hobbyist wildlife tracker — had been monitoring the coyote pack, which had taken up residence near an off-site parking lot for La Guardia Airport employees over the summer. But the lone animal’s cry was worrisome. “I could hear the trauma on the father’s voice,” said Vincenti, 47. “He was totally despondent. I had never heard him vocalize like that.”

Indeed, five of the dogs had been “euthanized to help keep airport travelers, workers and nearby residents safe after the coyotes became acclimated to humans, increasing the possibility of an attack,” according to the Port Authority, which authorized the action.

Vincenti, a Mineola, LI, barber, was devastated by the setback in his uphill battle to convince people to peacefully coexist with coyotes — a fight that pits him against city residents who believe their pets, kids and sense of safety are threatened by urban wildlife.

As the animal’s populations have grown upstate, packs have been forced to look for new territory farther south. Experts estimate there are more than 20 coyotes in NYC, and they’ve been spotted from Central Park to Battery Park City, Chelsea to a rooftop in Long Island City. (The only borough yet to have a sighting is Brooklyn.)

Vincenti started his advocacy organization, Wild Dog Foundation, shortly after the first coyote sighting in The Bronx in 1995. “I’ve just had this strange attraction to [wild dogs] since I was young, and I feel like that’s where I’m relevant now,” he said.

Through his Facebook page and library lectures, Vincenti hopes to prevent euthanization by educating the public.

Chris Nagy, the director of research at the Mianus River Gorge conservation group, is grateful for the help.

“I’ve studied urban wildlife for a while, and the animals are the easiest part — it’s the humans that are the tricky part,” Nagy said. “[Vincenti] is working on that angle, while I get to study these animals, so I’m glad he’s around.”

Most evenings, Vincenti leaves his barber shop — a 95-year-old institution that’s been in the family since his great-grandfather opened it — and drives to places where he’s heard there are coyotes either from community tips, media reports or his wildlife-expert friends. Then he parks and waits for the dogs, so he can watch them.

Weeks before the La Guardia pack was euthanized, Vincenti shared a moment with the animals. While the adult coyotes were away foraging, he let out his best howl.

“Five minutes later [the pups] tumbled out, expecting me to regurgitate into their mouths,” he said. “I think they were disappointed to see this guy looking all excited to see them.” (Vincenti and a Post photographer spotted a couple more coyotes roaming near a La Guardia employee parking lot over Christmas.)

Occasionally he’ll “haze” the coyotes — making big, threatening movements so the animals don’t get too comfortable with humans and risk euthanization. In October 2016, a coyote was spotted near Calvary Cemetery in Maspeth.

Vincenti took it upon himself to haze the dog by running after her. He doesn’t recommend everyone do this, but the coyote hasn’t been seen in the area since. Vincenti’s wife and 7-year-old son don’t share in his hobby, but that doesn’t dampen the barber’s enthusiasm.

“What else would I do? Other than take care of my family,” he said. “I can’t explain it; it’s just this passion.”

In fact, he wishes it were his job.

“I’d rather be studying coyotes than asking people how short they want their sideburns.”

via: Long Island barber howls at local coyotes to save them | New York Post