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Animal Defenders of Westchester
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Who or what killed Hal?

In today's NY DAILY NEWS WWW.NYDAILYNEWS.COM is an article investigating Hal's death; and horse-doping at the Meadowlands:


Hal the coyote

Think "CSI" - only the victim is a coyote.

Five days after the wily one known as Hal dropped dead, there's no shortage of theories about what killed him.

Was it poison? A hidden disease? Or human error?

Hal led cops on a wild chase through Central Park last month, only to be captured and die suddenly while state wildlife officials were tagging him.

Some wildlife rehabilitators fear a Department of Environmental Conservation biologist and a Cornell graduate student who tried to tag Hal were unnecessarily rough with the stressed-out animal.

Meanwhile, a veteran wildlife pathologist performing the necropsy on Hal's body said a heartworm infestation may have contributed to his demise - and he's also trying to determine whether the carnivore wolfed down rodenticide.

"One thing I want to look at is did it eat something containing some poison along the way," said Ward Stone, a top researcher with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"There was a lot of internal bleeding, and so we want to find out the explanation for that."

But Elise Able, who runs Fox Wood Wildlife in upstate East Concord, thinks "careless and inhumane" handling by the DEC is to blame.

"Hal was snared around the neck with a catch pole," Able wrote on her Web site. "Imagine the stress and terror the coyote felt."

DEC officials said they placed a muzzle on the coyote's face, tied his legs and held him with a catch pole to carry out the prerelease tagging.

Stone can't say yet whether Hal suffered serious trauma following his capture - so stay tuned.

"I don't want to reach any conclusions on that until I have all my pieces together," he said.

Originally published on April 4, 2006

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