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Wily N.Y. Coyote Eludes Capture

March 22, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) _ A police helicopter and sharpshooters armed with tranquilizer guns were no match for a wily coyote on the loose Wednesday in Central Park.

At one point, authorities tried to corner the animal near the park’s skating rink, but the clever creature jumped into the water, ducked under a bridge, then scampered through the rink grounds and ran off.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, among others, spotted the animal on Tuesday 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.″

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 shot at the tawny animal at one point Tuesday but said it escaped into a wooded area. Once caught, the beast will be taken to an upstate wildlife facility, Benepe said.

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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