IMAGE: COYOTE IN CENTRAL PARK
Dima Gavrysh  /  AP
This coyote was chased through New York's Central Park on Tuesday and Wednesday before being tranquilized by sharpshooters.
updated 3/22/2006 1:32:31 PM ET 2006-03-22T18:32:31

A wily coyote led sharpshooters armed with tranquilizer guns on a merry chase through Central Park before being captured on Wednesday.

At one point, authorities tried to corner the animal in the southeast corner of the park, by Wollman Rink. The clever creature jumped into the water, ducked under a bridge, then scampered through the rink grounds and ran off.

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

The hunt had been on since Tuesday afternoon when Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, among others, spotted the animal in the southeast corner of the park, not far from the tony Upper East Side.

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

Threat to dogs
During a session with reporters Wednesday morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg quipped, “This is New York, and I would suggest the coyote may have more problems than the rest of us.”

The first sightings of the animal came in the early morning hours on Sunday.

While coyotes don’t usually present a threat to people, Benepe warned that park visitors should keep their dogs leashed to protect the pets.

Officers did locate and shoot at the tawny animal as they hunted for hours Tuesday, but police said it escaped into a wooded area.  Benepe said the creature would be taken to an upstate wildlife facility after capture.

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

“It’s very unusual to have them in Manhattan,” he said. “They have to be particularly adventurous.”

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