Saturday, April 01, 2006

Just in, the NY Times story about CP Coyote

Hal Coyote, 1, Dies; Romped in the Park

By James Barron
Published: April 1, 2006

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. Daniel Avila/New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, via Reuters

Hal was captured on March 22 near 79th Street. On Thursday night, the coyote died in Putnam County while being tagged for release. 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."