Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Coyote in Central Park this morning

Today during the Early Birders' walk, a helicopter was circling above the park for the entire two hours. We knew [from the NY Times and the morning radio and TV News] that it was there in search of a wily critter, a coyote, that had been spotted in the park on Tuesday -- yesterday. Needless to say we were all rooting for the "outlaw". But inevitably, with large forces working in concert, using helicopters, tranquilizer guns and God knows what else, the coyote was caught.

A coyote was last seen in Central Park in 1999. I wrote an article about the episode in the Wall St. Journal which I'll try to post here soon. In the meanwhile, the following AP story just came in:

Coyote Captured in New York's Central Park

Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Associated Press --

NEW YORK — A wily coyote led sharpshooters armed with tranquilizer guns on a merry chase through Central Park before being captured.

At one point, authorities tried to corner the animal in the southeast corner of the park, by Wollman Rink. The clever creature jumped into the water, ducked under a bridge, then scampered through the rink grounds and ran off.

The coyote was captured somewhere north of that area, Parks Department spokesman Ashe Reardon said.

The hunt had been on since Tuesday afternoon when Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, among others, spotted the animal in the southeast corner of the park, not far from the tony Upper East Side.

"It didn't look the least bit worried," he said. "He leaped over the fence and disappeared in the park."

During a session with reporters Wednesday morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg quipped, "This is New York, and I would suggest the coyote may have more problems than the rest of us."

The first sightings of the animal came in the early morning hours on Sunday.

While coyotes don't usually present a threat to people, Benepe warned that park visitors should keep their dogs leashed to protect the pets.
Officers did locate and shoot at the tawny animal as they hunted for hours Tuesday, but police said it escaped into a wooded area. Benepe said the creature would be taken to an upstate wildlife facility after capture.

The coyote, nicknamed Hal by Parks Department staffers, may have wandered into the city from Westchester County, perhaps swimming across a river, Benepe said.

Another coyote, nicknamed Wiley, found its way to Central Park in 1999 and is now kept in the Queens Zoo.

"It's very unusual to have them in Manhattan," he said. "They have to be particularly adventurous."