Jerry Czech, a game warden for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, has heard of coyotes wandering into Philadelphia — one was even struck and killed by a car a few years ago near Pennypack Park. But he hadn't heard of one making its way far into an urbanized residential area until this week when Philadelphia police called Monday afternoon to say they had a coyote cornered in the city's Mayfair neighborhood.
"This just happened to be a coyote that wandered off and probably got lost," Czech said.
According to Czech, police in the 15th District spotted the coyote and followed it a few blocks. It wandered through an alley before walking onto the 4200 block of Greeby Street, between Vogt Park and Roosevelt Playground.
Using their squad cars, the police cornered the coyote to an area fenced in on three sides and called Czech's office. But Czech was on duty in Delaware County and too far to be of immediate help.
The officers said that, rather than wait, they would try to snare the animal with a "catch pole" — a stick with a loop at the end.
Czech was doubtful. "But sure enough, they did," he said.
Police put the coyote in the back of the squad car and sent Czech some pictures to examine if the animal might be diseased. Rangers from the city's Parks and Recreation Department also were called.
"From the pictures, I could tell it was perfectly healthy," Czech said.
Chris Zapart, another game warden, met police and then drove the coyote north about six miles and let it go into Pennypack Park near Verree Road. The wardens chose the area because it provided thick cover and the animal had farther to roam, even into Montgomery County.
Czech said it was possible coyotes have made their way into other highly urbanized parts of the city before, but residents might assume they are dogs.
Indeed, coyotes in this region are likely Eastern coyotes, which some label a coywolf: a hybrid coyote, wolf, and dog. Coyotes have been spotted in suburbs for a number of years, but sightings within the city's borders are more recent.
The animals feed on mice, voles, rabbits, and woodchucks, so Pennypack Park could be a good feeding ground.