- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — A wily coyote led sharpshooters armed with tranquilizer guns on a two-day chase through Central Park before it was captured yesterday morning.

The coyote, nicknamed Hal by staffers at the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, may have wandered into the city from Westchester County, perhaps swimming across a river, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said. Another coyote found its way to Central Park in 1999 and is now kept in the Queens Zoo.

At one point yesterday, the searchers had the coyote cornered near the park’s ice rink, but the clever creature jumped into the water, ducked under a bridge, scampered through the rink grounds and escaped.

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

The hunt had been on since Tuesday afternoon when Mr. Benepe, among others, spotted the animal in the southeast corner of the park, not far from the tony Upper East Side. People had reported seeing it in the area since early Sunday.

“It didn’t look the least bit worried,” Mr. Benepe said. “He leaped over the fence and disappeared in the park.”

A police officer eventually shot the coyote, a male thought to be about a year old, with a tranquilizer gun at close range, Mr. Benepe said. He said the animal would be taken to an upstate wildlife facility.

Although coyotes usually don’t present a threat to people, Mr. Benepe said, park visitors should keep their dogs leashed to protect the pets.

Both coyotes strayed into the same area of the park, the Hallett Wildlife Sanctuary, Mr. Benepe said.

“It’s an area closed to people and dogs, so it’s a good place for a coyote to hunt for birds,” he said. “It’s an immature young coyote. … At that age they’re frisky and curious to explore the turf.”

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