Taylor Park neighbors believe tall grass is to blame for bold coyotes

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – As the grass in Taylor Park grows taller and taller, more neighbors are concerned with what they’re seeing. An area of the park is being taken over by some unwanted visitors and some in the community feel the city isn’t stepping up to help.

“Back then it was a beautiful park, people would use the park, flying kites, people would lay out and read books,” Julian Tyler, a resident in Taylor Park said.

The Tyler family has called Taylor Park their backyard for the past 20 years. A peaceful piece of property near 70th and ‘O’ Streets in Lincoln, but about 10 years ago, they say the area changed.

The City decided a portion of Taylor Park would be managed under a ‘Long Grass Policy or Prairie in the Park area.’

The tall grass in some spots stands over five feet tall right now.

Neighbors say Lincoln Parks and Recreation said the tall grass would help get rid of the weeds in the park after a couple of years.

“And here we are 10 plus years later, we still have a lot of weeds,” Tyler said. “It’s just not being maintained, according to their master plan.”

Parks and Rec says Taylor Park is one of the biggest in the city – about half of the park is mowed regularly, the other half falls under the ‘long grass category.’ Those spots are typically mowed one to three times each year depending on the vegetation type, the city says.

The Tyler family says Parks and Rec will mow the area about once a year, but within a week the grass has already grown back.

The tall prairie grass may have been a sight for sore eyes at the beginning for the neighborhood, but now it’s bringing some serious concerns for the neighbors.

Those who live nearby say they have seen people facing homelessness sleeping in the tall grass and now the area has become a breeding ground for coyotes. The animals are living in the tall vegetation where they can stay hidden, and just a stone’s throw away from East Ridge Elementary School.

“They come right up to people’s homes and in their yards and we have a lot of people worried about their small pets,” Tyler said.

Neighbors believe if Lincoln Parks and Recreation would mow the area more regularly, the unwanted visitors wouldn’t be hanging around.

Parks and Rec said in a statement they don’t believe mowing the native grasses down would deter the coyotes from being in the park. They added, coyotes have been seen laying in mowed areas of other city parks.

Taylor Park’s neighbors have even offered to mow the area themselves, but they said Parks and Rec said no to that idea and instead came out and carved several pathways through the grass. But neighbors say the tunnels don’t solve the problem.

Many in the area just want the old Taylor Park back.

“We’d love to see it return to a neighborhood park, that’s what it is,” Tyler said.

Lincoln Parks and Recreation says the drainage channel, that runs north and south, through the park is probably the most significant factor in the presence of coyotes.

They say Animal Control staff have set up daily monitoring of the area around the park for coyotes.

If you see a coyote, you’re encouraged to report to Lincoln Animal Control.

You can read Lincoln Parks and Recreations full statement here:

“By way of background, Taylor Park is designated as a neighborhood park and has typical neighborhood park features of a playground, a park shelter and a multi-use open lawn area.  Taylor Park is 19.5 acres in size, and about 9 acres of the park are in regular mowing.  The average neighborhood park is about four acres in size.  Taylor Park is nearly five times the size of a typical neighborhood park and the active use areas in regular mowing is about is twice the size of a typical neighborhood park.  The other 10.5 acres in Taylor Park are managed as Long Grass / Prairie in the Park. There is an area of native grass that has been established in the west portion of Taylor Park north of the playground and shelter.  It’s also important to know that there is a large drainage channel that runs north/south through the center of Taylor Park.  This drainage channel is a tributary of Dead Mans Run. 

There are designated Long Grass / Prairie in the Park areas in 51 of Lincoln’s park, including 33 neighborhood parks. Long Grass / Prairie in the Parks areas are passive use areas in parks that are typically mowed one to three times each year depending on vegetation type.   Areas that have been seeded to and established as native grass are typically mowed once a year in late winter prior to the growing season.  This park mowing practice allows limited resources to be focused on mowing of active use areas in parks. 

There are established urban coyote populations in Lincoln.  Parks and Recreation staff work closely with Animal Control in responding to citizen concerns about coyotes.  We are aware of urban coyotes being in a number of park areas.  They seem to be using drainage channel corridors and storm drains to move around.  It is likely that the coyotes reported in Taylor Park access the park along the drainage channel that runs through Taylor Park to Dead Man’s Run.

We encourage people who see coyotes to make loud noises and waive their arms to attempt to keep them wary of interaction of people. Residents should not leave food, including pet food, outdoors to avoid attracting coyotes and other wildlife.  Residents in areas where coyotes have been sighted are encouraged to monitor their cats and small dogs when they are outside.

It has been suggested that we consider mowing the area of native grass in the northwestern area of the park to discourage coyotes.  We don’t think that mowing the native grasses down will deter the coyotes from being in the park.  Coyotes have been seen laying in mowed areas of other parks.  The drainage channel mentioned above is probably the most significant factor in the presence of coyotes in Taylor Park.

Animal Control staff have set up a daily monitoring of the area around Taylor Park for coyotes.  Residents are encouraged to contact Animal Control at 402-441-7900 if they see coyotes in or around Taylor Park or other parks.  

The hours that parks are open to the public are specified in the Lincoln Municipal Code.  The hours of operation for Taylor Park are 5 am to 11 pm, consistent with most parks in Lincoln.  People may engage in a variety of recreation and leisure activities in parks during the hours that they are open.  Sleeping in a park during hours when a park is open is an allowed activity.  Being in a park after hours can be considered to be trespassing.  If Taylor Park neighbors believe that people may be in the park overnight, they are encouraged to phone the Lincoln Police Department non-emergency phone number of 402-441-6000 to report the behavior.  If Police officers encounter a person experiencing homelessness in Taylor Park after hours, they can assist this person in connecting with support local services.”

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