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Coyote leads police on chase through NY's Central Park before capture

The Associated Press

NEW YORK- A wily coyote led police sharpshooters armed with tranquilizer guns on a frantic 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 an ice skating 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."

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 do not usually present a threat to people, Benepe warned that park visitors should keep their dogs leashed to protect the pets.

Police officers did locate and shoot at the tawny animal as they hunted for hours Tuesday, but police said the coyote escaped into a wooded area. Benepe said the captured coyote would be taken to an upstate wildlife facility.

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