NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A coyote sighting on the Upper West Side on Wednesday night has residents on edge.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the coyote practically scampered over the feet of a CBS2 crew at the entrance to Riverside Park and West 79th Street, the NYPD is now tracking the coyote.

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A coyote was also spotted around 5 a.m. at Riverside Park along the Hudson River, between 96th and 79th streets, police said.

The wild animal was seen in and around the park and near Grant’s Tomb on Wednesday afternoon, CBS2’s Steve Langford reported.

Chopper 2 was over the scene at Riverside Park near Riverside Drive and 83rd Street, where emergency service units were combing the area.

Police officers walked around with snares also searching for the coyote, CBS2 reported.

“I thought they were going after people with dogs off the leash, and then I saw about a 50-pound coyote, kind of brindle color, running north and then the coyote running south, and then all these cop cars chasing it,” one witness told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane.

The witness said the coyote didn’t appear to be aggressive. It just wanted to get away.

Authorities lost track of the animal somewhere above 120th Street, and eventually police called off the search, 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis reported.

On Wednesday night, Bronx grandmother Sylvia Ruiz told CBS2’s McLogan that she thought she was seeing things when she spotted an apparent coyote.

“Kinda big, it was laying down there, moved its head around a little bit,” she said.

The animal was nestled under the forsythia bush in the backyard of her Co-Op City apartment.

She snapped some pictures through a window and sent them to her daughter who works for the Co-Op City Police.

“She said, ‘oh, it’s  coyote,’ so they sent about four sergeants, and they all came in,” she said.

The coyote escaped their grasp, now residents aren’t sure how well they will sleep.

“We got notification through our telephone service that there was a spotting of a coyote in the area,” Carolyn Nathanel said. “I was shocked. A coyote? I heard them being in Manhattan, but not here in the Bronx.”

CBS2's cameras caught a coyote running around in the area of Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, on Wednesday, April 22. (Credit: CBS2)

CBS2’s cameras caught a coyote running around in the area of Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, on Wednesday, April 22. (Credit: CBS2)

There was some concern the animal could harm someone, especially if it’s hungry.

“And if that happens, people should get big, make noise and scare it off,” said Sarah Aucoin, director of urban park rangers for the city’s Parks Department.

Otherwise, Aucoin said the coyote is probably more scared of people than the other way around.

Generally speaking, coyotes have an appetite not for humans, but for species most would be thrilled to see gone, local experts said.

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“They eat rats. They eat mice. They eat small mammals,” Aucoin said.

Experts suggested making yourself appear as large as possible, but said not to run away as that could trigger an attack response.

“Hopefully they can catch it and release it back to the wild, I guess, and nobody gets hurt,” Sophia Munoz told CBS2.

Vivian, who lives on the Upper West Side, told Dennis the coyote was probably just spooked.

“I think if you were a coyote hearing the helicopter, you’d make a run for it, no?” she said.

“It seems like the city is not far from the forest, and maybe people should be careful,” Mariem Hasni said.

“I feel bad for the coyote,” Upper West Side resident Lily Korolkoff said. “I think he can probably be in a better place, so if they catch him and release him, it’s better for him. It’s better for the neighborhood.”

This is the fourth confirmed coyote sighting in Manhattan this year, leaving some wondering why so many are appearing, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.

“It’s the time of year when young coyotes disperse from their family groups,” explained Aucoin.

So how did it end up in Manhattan?

“It’s possible that the coyote came down a bridge over from Riverdale into the Inwood area and made it down the West Side Highway,” Aucoin said. “We really don’t know.”

Last week, police captured a coyote in the courtyard of a church in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. They used a dart gun to shoot the animal with a sedative. It was removed to an animal care facility.

Aucoin added that coyotes naturally avoid people but might watch you from a distance. She said the chances of a coyote having rabies, as has happened recently in New Jersey, is extremely low.

Multiple dens of coyotes have been found in suburban New Jersey communities, including the town of Norwood, where a man out walking his dog was bit on the leg by one.

That coyote was killed and has tested positive for rabies, Norwood police said.

State conservation officer Robert Driscoll shot the coyote, WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported.

“It was about to start running, and I wasn’t going to let it get away,” he said.

State Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda said they have spotted a second coyote living near the rabid one, but could not say if it, too, has rabies.

“Because they are close, you would have to treat it that way,” he said.

“We have baited traps in there,” added Norwood police Chief Jeff Krapels.

Krapels said police also keeping folks out of the Fox Hill trail area this week, where the traps are. He said coyotes do live in the area, especially during evenings and nights.

“You’ll see coyotes all over Norwood,” Krapels said.

They don’t normally bite, Krapels said. In the chief’s 30-plus years on the job, he said it’s “actually the second time in my career that coyotes have showed or exhibited any aggression.”

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