By Elise Able
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 a Cornell graduate student doing a 5-year study on
suburban coyotes (with an agenda unrelated to their well-being).
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 Hal. 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 the coyote 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
As soon as the trusting wildlife rehabilitator handed over the coyote
to this group, Hal was snared around the neck with a catchpole, and fought
as he was dragged 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, his muzzle was taped firmly shut, and then he was hog
tied. Again, this is highly unprofessional and unnecessary restraint for a
coyote. Imagine the stress and terror the coyote felt.
The individual 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 who 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 an 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. Let us hope the group that caused
Hal’s death takes responsibility for his unnecessary death, and learns
from this travesty so that no wild animal is ever again subjected to such
an agonizing demise.
HAL DIDN’T STAND A CHANCE!
I, along with many others, read with shock and sadness that Hal, the
Central Park coyote, died during tagging. Those of us who’ve witnessed the
tagging of wildlife by state game agents know how stressful and often
painful it is.
Poor Hal, who never harmed a soul, couldn’t be tolerated. One 35-pound
coyote, living in a forested area the size of the country of Monaco, had
to be deported.
…and where was he going to go after being tagged? To state game lands,
where he would no doubt be killed during the long hunting season that
brings with it coyote killing contests. That “season” just ended on March
26th, but coyote killing continues throughout the year for “nuisance”
I would bet that poor Hal was a refugee who fled from hunters upstate,
and what better place to come to than NYC? It’s the only place where a
coyote in NY can be safe, from hunters at least.
The game agents have it figured out. There’s no hunting in the spring
and summer, thus allowing the young pups to be born, while ensuring a
“crop” for the hunters next “season.”
Facing long hunting seasons, unlimited bag limits, and shooting
contests, the individual coyote is doomed, but the species lives on.
We wish you a better life now, Hal. The tagging and allegedly humane
transfer was a sham designed to lead the public to believe you were going
to a better place. A religious person might say that his maker took him to
that better place. The very saddest realization is that Hal’s untimely
death spared him a worse fate. Hal must have known that he never stood a
If you would like to stop sport hunting, please contact us: www.all-creatures.org/cash
Anne Muller, President
Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting
New Paltz, NY 12561