Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him
Hal, the one-year-old coyote who captured the hearts and imagination of New Yorkers when he strayed into Central Park last month, has been murdered by wildlife biologists in a botched attempt to ear-tag him. His killers have been identified as Dan Bogan, a graduate student at Cornell, and Mike Putnam, a wildlife biologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). No criminal charges or disciplinary action have been brought against the deadly duo.
Hal was first spotted in Central Park on March 20th and it is assumed that he wandered in from either Westchester County or New Jersey. The police hounded him for two days before they were able to corner him and shoot him with a dart containing Ketamine. (See photo of him above.)
He then spent a week with firefighter Bobby Horvath and policewoman Rebecca Asman who operate Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation on Long Island. There he was treated for ticks and other parasites as well as given a steady diet of venison, chicken, organ meats, canned dog good, and kibble.
On March 30th, Bogan and Putnam reclaimed him with the intent of releasing him in the California Hill State Forest in upstate New York's Putnam County. Not having an ounce of respect for his inalienable right to live in freedom and dignity, they decided that he must first submit to being tagged before they would release him.
Bogan and Putnam then proceeded to remove him from his carrier with a control pole and to seal shut his mouth with an elastic bandage. (See photo of him in his cage below.)
They then attempted to pin him down for tagging but while they were tussling with him he suffocated on his own blood and died. Although a postmortem revealed thirty-five heartworms and the presence of the rodenticide Chlorophacinone in his body, his premature death was no doubt the direct result of the rough and uncalled for treatment that he received at the hands of the biologists.
His death also raises serious questions about how not only wildlife but domestic animals as well are treated by animal care professionals. For instance, why was he never checked for heartworms and Chlorophacinone by either the DEC or by Horvath and Asman?
Also, should rat poison he used under any circumstances? Not only is it lethal to all animals who come into direct contact with it, but it is also harmful to those who feed upon poisoned rodents.
As for tagging, Asman told the New York Daily News on April 8th, "To minimize stress, we handle wild animals as little as possible so they can be released back into the wild. Hopefully, new protocols will be set for the handling of coyotes that come into the five-borough area, and we do believe that will happen again." (See "Stress Killed Coyote.")
Asman concluded by saying, "We are still very saddened by the fact that Hal was never able to be free." Bon dit! As for Bogan and Putnam, they should at least be fired if not jailed. They are not protectors of wildlife; they are wildlife annihilators.
Photos: James Carbone of Newsday (Hal) and Daniel Avila of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (Hall in cage).