Riverdale Coyotes and Wolves

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        Coyotes have been in the news again in Riverdale.  As many of the articles indicate, they are not natural to the area but they basically are following the deer, who lack natural predators.  Historically, New York was home to mountain lions and wolves, which kept the deer population in check but both species have obviously been eradicated in our area, thus making room for the coyotes.

        On that note, I found an interesting order in the Minutes of the Court of Sessions for Westchester County from 1692 (The Bronx was part of Westchester at that time).  The order mandated that every local inhabitant build wolf traps (or pits) on their property and offered a reward to both colonists and Native Americans for every wolf killed.  The wolves’ heads were to be brought to the constable, who would cut off its ears and post them in “some convenient public place.”  Our local constable was John Betts, who lived in modern day Van Cortlandt Park.  If you feel like reading some 17th century English here’s the order:

        the Court of Sessions have order & it is hereby Ordered for the prevention of Damag don by wolves in this County, that the Inhabitants of Every Respective place shall Make or Cause to be made two Wolufe Pitts in such places where the Inhabitants shall bee most Convenient:  And that for Every wolufe Cathched Kild or distryed by the said Pitts or otherwise the head shall be brought to the Constable who shall Cutt off the Eares off of from the said wolufes head and Naile it Up in some Convenientt Publick place:  And that the said Constable shall pay or Sattisfie for Every wolufes head soe brought to him:  it being made appeare that it was Kild withing his Precincts the sume of twelve shillings, And for the defraying of the Charge of makeing of the said Wolufe Pitts: & Killing the said wolfes.  A Rate shall be made Upon the severall Inhabittants of the said Constableshipp for the defraying the said Charge, and for the Incurragment of the Indians they shall have ten shillings apece for Eery wolufe they Kill…

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