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Animals In Print
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From 14 April 2006 Issue

The Violent Death of Hal, The Central Park Coyote - Part II

Sunday, 02 April 2006 | Permalink |
Saturday, 01 April 2006

So how does a healthy young male Eastern coyote wind up dead after being kept healthy and safe for more than a week by skilled wildlife rehabilitators?  You may have heard the story about Hal, the young male coyote who made the mistake of ending up in Central Park- where he was surely going to feast on rats, mice, squirrels and other small rodents?  Instead he was terrorized, chased, darted, lost with the dart in him (eek!!!) and then chased and darted again the next day.  Though this animal surely posed little or no threat to children, and small pets, he was hunted down like a criminal and finally captured hungry, thirsty and exhausted after two days of being chased.

He rested with a wildlife rehabilitator for a few days, ate a lot, drank a lot of water and started to regain his strength.  This wildlife rehabilitator is very knowledgeable and reputable and consulted with me on this coyote, as he did with another coyote just a few weeks earlier.  The other coyote was much luckier - having been spared the interaction with Dan Bogan, a pompous Cornell graduate with an agenda unrelated to the well-being of coyotes.

Rather than release Hal in a more remote place as soon as he recovered, the rehabilitator was ordered to keep the coyote while the local biologists decided "what to do with it".  Meanwhile, The Cornell grad excitedly awaited his opportunity to put an ear tag in it.  I had previously warned this student that the method he was to use for ear tagging was unnecessarily harsh and violent - he wanted to use a catch pole, pull it out of the carrier as it struggled and fought against such force and pin it down, and fasten the ear tag. The rehabilitators had offered to tag Hal gently themselves, but were told "No".

As soon as the trusting wildlife rehabilitator handed over the coyote to his would-be killers, the horror began. Hal was snared around the neck with a catchpole, and fought as Dan tried to drag him out of the carrier this way.  Any animal would have fought this type of handling. As wildlife rehabilitators we NEVER use this method as it is unnecessary, dangerous and harmful to the animals.  As Hal fought for his life, Dan taped his muzzle firmly shut, and then hog tied him.  Again, this is highly unprofessional and unnecessary restraint for a coyote.  Imagine the stress and terror the coyote felt. 

Dan Bogan proceeded to straddle the struggling, exhausted coyote and then sat on him for about ten minutes until his chest rose no more. The news says "Hal suddenly and inexplicably died during the ear-tagging process???”.   Mind you, tagging an ear is like using a hole punch - very quick and easy.  How many people do you know died a violent death during an ear piercing?   For an experienced, knowledgeable and responsible wild animal handler, tagging should be very non-stressful on the animal, quick and easy.  But no - Not for THIS crew.

No consideration was given to Hal, who had been a perfect patient, a very docile, easily handled animal.  These people were obviously afraid and inexperienced.  They roughly handled, over handled, over tightened and pinned Hal for ten minutes, suffocating him.  Wouldn't it have been much more humane to just put a bullet in his head?  I have worked with a lot of Eastern coyotes through the years, vaccinating, worming, checking teeth, and even bathing unrestrained, fully conscious, wild Eastern coyotes.  Why?  Because they are docile and easy to handle.  A simple towel placed over the eyes and gently held in placed is the most restraint ever necessary.  Poor Hal died a agonizing, terrifying, and unnecessary death at the hands of a fearful inexperienced person who obviously has no affinity for or respect for wildlife.  Why is this person “studying” coyotes?  He certainly is not fond of them or knowledgeable about them.  I guess one will do anything to get their name in a journal in order to support their own preconceived agendas.

Let us hope this group who caused Hal’s death takes responsibility for his unnecessary death, and learn from this travesty so that no wildlife is ever again subjected to such an agonizing demise.

Saturday, 01 April 2006 | Permalink |

The Violent Death of Hal, the Central Park Coyote - Part I

Welcome to my new blog!  I've been told that blogs are an excellent forum for keeping things updated, expressing views and opinions, and even "conversing" with visitors.  I'm looking forward to seeing how this works.  For the time being, I won't spend time describing who I am or the specifics of Fox Wood Wild Life Rescue - for that, please visit http://www.foxwoodrehab.com.

Regarding the title of this post - In the past few weeks, there's been a news story about a coyote wandering around Central Park in Manhattan, dubbed "Hal" by the media.  As the media tells the story, it was darted and captured, and was going to be released in another "wildlife friendly" park well outside the city.  A subsequent news story this morning reported that the coyote died, and it was attributed to "stress from being darted and captured".  This is far from the truth.  His death was a direct result of careless and inhumane handling by the Cornell Graduate student during an unprofessional and careless tagging process.

I am a coyote expert - that's why the New York Post has called me several times in regard to this story.  I was consulted by the caretakers of this coyote as to how he should be handled - keep in mind that all I can do is advise - there is no way I can force people to take my advice.

I will be posting the details of what went wrong shortly, just as soon as I finish setting up this blog.  Once you get done reading the details, you'll soon see why we cannot trust the media to accurately report things, especially when certain species of wildlife have a completely unjustified negative stereotype.

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