By Vanessa Murdock

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Take a stroll through Central Park and you never know what you’ll encounter.

Recently a snowy owl ruffled many feathers. Now coyote sightings have hairs standing on end.

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As CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reports, it was something unusual caught on camera – a coyote in Central Park.

As if he heard his name called, the video shows the coyote pause, turn, and look at the source.

“I keep recording and it keeps walking, and then it stopped again and looked at me again, which was really cool,” said Beny, who shot the video.

He kept rolling as the elusive creature paraded in plain sight.

“I saw the coyote coming up the hill,” he said.

He told Murdock he was taking a stroll Monday night around Conservatory Water when he spotted it. He says it looked like a big dog.

“How is it possible that there’s a coyote in Central Park?” Beny said.

He thinks he may have eyed it once before in January in the same spot, but didn’t have time to grab his cell phone.

“It’s got a great coat, it’s not skinny. Looks pretty healthy to me,” said Bergen County Animal Control Officer Carole Tyler.

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Looks healthy, Tyler said. That means behaving normally and doesn’t pose a threat to humans.

Tyler told Murdock Beny spotting one in Central Park doesn’t surprise her at all. It has everything a coyote could need: Plenty of places to hide and sleep and an extensive food supply.

“Natural food sources like duck and geese that are being fed and are well fed, nice and plump right now, to garbage from humans who’ve been in the park,” Tyler said. “They’re not there to chase humans.”

The New York City Parks Department says New Yorkers shouldn’t worry. They sent out word “there is only one coyote and no reason to believe the population increased.”

Sighting numbers are impressive, though. In 2020, 34 coyote sightings were reported. Since 2016, a total of 126.

“I think it’s wild,” Upper East Side resident Eddie Fisher.

Dash Clemente says she read the news.

“I just thought it was funny because they said don’t feed it, don’t pet it,” Clemente said.

“Would you do those things?” Murdock asked.

“No, of course not,” Clemente said.

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Tyler adds coyotes lived in Central Park before it had a name. Seeing them indicates a healthy ecosystem.

Vanessa Murdock