March 22, 2006
Wily Coyote Caught in New York’s Central Park
By Ellen Freilich
NEW YORK -- 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 it's 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."
(Additional reporting by Claudia Parsons)