Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wily coyote caught in New York's Central Park

Wily coyote caught in New York's Central Park

By Ellen Freilich
Wed Mar 22, 1:36 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A coyote that came to New York to dine on duck in Central Park was caught on Wednesday after leading police and park rangers on a two-day chase.

The coyote, a year-old, tawny-colored male, which is thought to have made its way to the city from the countryside to the north, was tracked down near 79th Street inside the 843-acre (341-hectare) park, officials said.

"He's a very adventurous coyote to travel to midtown Manhattan," Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe told reporters.

He said the animal was cornered in the southeast section of the park early on Wednesday before escaping over an 8-foot fence and crossing some water to make its way north.

"This is the wildest of the wild animals we've seen here," Benepe said, noting that the last time a coyote was captured in the park was in 1999.

"It was a very quiet coyote, not howling at the moon and not looking to be noticed," Benepe said, adding that it was apparently drawn to the nature sanctuary where there was less human scent.

Local television stations showed footage of police and park rangers running through the park in pursuit of the animal, which has been hunting ducks and other birds, leaving piles of feathers in its wake.

"Our thought is that it came in from Westchester County and then came south through the Bronx before getting to the park," parks spokeswoman Carli Smith said. "They're not a threat," Smith said. "They typically avoid human interaction."

The animal was first spotted on Sunday and was seen again on Tuesday, when emergency services and park authorities launched a full-scale search. It was spotted on a baseball field near a nature sanctuary on Wednesday.

Actor Dick Hughes, who was walking in the park on Wednesday, said the coyote was a "nice touch of nature."

"The last thing I'm worried about in New York is a coyote. I wonder if the coyote is worried about us," Hughes said. "It's New York. Check its papers and let it go."

Benepe said the coyote was being kept in a cage while it recovers from the tranquilizer darts used to capture it, and it was expected to be taken back to the country.

"The important thing is to get the coyote out of harm's way and into a more natural habitat," Benepe said.

The landscaped park at the heart of Manhattan includes reservoirs, a zoo and wilderness areas, offering plenty of cover for a coyote.

Jonathan Ellers, director of a wildlife theater program at Central Park Zoo, expressed admiration for the coyote.

"I'm all for him. He's an urban fellow and pretty darned resourceful," said Ellers, who was walking in the park.

"For his own good, it would probably be better for him to go back to the country. But if he wants to visit, in my opinion, he's welcome."


Kingmont said...

And heeeeeeere's Hal the Coyote in NYC, a gourmand at heart!

Grey Wolf-6 said...

Wily Coyote Dies Before Release Into the Wild
By JAMES BARRON, The New York Times
(April 1) - Hal, the coyote who led park rangers and police officers on a two-day chase in Central Park last month, died on Thursday, moments before he was to be released in a thousand-acre state forest in Putnam County. He was about a year old.

The cause of death had not been determined, Gabrielle DeMarco, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said yesterday.
Hal's birthplace was unknown, as was his birthday. After his romp in the park, Adrian Benepe, the city's parks commissioner, speculated that Hal had fled Westchester County, wandering across the railroad bridge that connects the Bronx and Manhattan at Spuyten Duyvil. From there, Mr. Benepe said, Hal could have sauntered down the West Side and into Central Park.

He had the run of the park for a few days before parks officials cornered him at the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, not far from the Wollman Rink and the carousel. He leaped over their heads and spent another night on the loose before being felled by a tranquilizer dart fired by a police officer.

He spent the last week of his life in the care of wildlife rehabilitators on Long Island. They turned him over to state biologists on Thursday.

"He was in good shape when he left me," one of the handlers, Rebecca Asman, said yesterday. "Maybe there were other things going on inside of Hal. He looked good to us. As far as outward appearance, he was eating very well and he was very calm, but coyotes are by nature very calm."

The state biologists took him about 60 miles north of Manhattan to the California Hill State Forest in Putnam County, near Kent, N.Y., Ms. DeMarco said. There, she said, Hal stopped breathing when the biologists and Cornell University graduate researchers restrained him to put an identification tag on his ear.

She said that a soft muzzle had been placed around Hal's snout, but it did not cover his nose. His legs had also been restrained, but he had not been tranquilized, she said.

She said a necropsy would be conducted to ascertain the cause of Hal's death. "For an animal to die during standard tagging procedure is rare," Ms. DeMarco said. "We're hoping the necropsy procedure will shed light on Hal's overall health and whether previous stress on the animal during his chase through the park contributed to his death."
03/31/06 21:00 EST