2006_03_coyote.jpgHoly Acme Company! Reporters on the respective parks, animals-on-the-loose, and Canis latrans beats hit the trifecta yesterday, with news that there was a coyote wandering around Central Park, not too unlike a tourist in awe of the 800+ acre urban oasis. Visitors to the park reported seeing a wolf-like animal yesterday afternoon, and even Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe saw the coyote (and then hit speed dial to the press office to round up some reporters). Benepe told the Post, "We'll call him 'Hal' for now because he was found near the Hallett Sanctuary. If we discover that it's a she, then we'll just have to call her 'Henrietta.'" Uh, Mr. Parks Commissioner, how about Halle? Anyway, Benepe also thinks the coyote traveled from Westchester County, and the commuter was tracked by the police (armed with tranquilizer guns and/or in helicopters - don't worry, the tranq-patrol stopped at night). And to be tracking the coyote's moves! The NY Times seems to have the only firsthand account:

About 10:30 p.m. a reporter spotted what appeared to be the coyote — a tawny, furry animal that resembled a German shepherd — on the steps leading to the parks department headquarters, at 64th Street off Fifth Avenue. It leveled a distinctly blank stare from black eyes as it was approached.

The Parks Department is recommending that people keep their dogs on leashes at all times - and not to approach the coyote - the animal is subsisting on small animals (sorry, pigeon lovers) but is probably freaked out by the smell of hot dogs, so who knows how he could turn!

The search for Hal continues today. No word if the SWAT team is part of the search, given coyotes' proclivity for sticks of dynamite and plans that don't work out well.

Update: The coyote has been CAPTURED! Hal was captured north of Wollman Rink and will be taken to an upstate wildlife center. You can now walk your tiny dogs in Central Park in relative peace - just watch out for the falcons.