The Violent Death of Hal, The Central Park Coyote

By Elise Able


So how does a healthy young male Eastern coyote wind up dead after being kept healthy and safe for more than a week by skilled wildlife rehabilitators? You may have heard the story about Hal, the young male coyote who made the mistake of ending up in Central Park- where he was surely going to feast on rats, mice, squirrels and other small rodents?  Instead he was terrorized, chased, darted, lost with the dart in him (eek!!!) and then chased and darted again the next day.  Though this animal surely posed little or no threat to children and small pets, he was hunted down like a criminal and finally captured hungry, thirsty and exhausted after two days of being chased.

He rested with a wildlife rehabilitator for a few days, ate a lot, drank a lot of water and started to regain his strength.  This wildlife rehabilitator is very knowledgeable and reputable and consulted with me on this coyote, as he did with another coyote just a few weeks earlier.  The other coyote was much luckier – having been spared the interaction with a Cornell graduate student doing a 5-year study on suburban coyotes (with an agenda unrelated to their well-being).

Rather than release Hal in a more remote place as soon as he recovered, the rehabilitator was ordered to keep the coyote while the local biologists decided “what to do with it”. Meanwhile, The Cornell grad excitedly awaited his opportunity to put an ear tag in Hal. I had previously warned this student that the method he was to use for ear tagging was unnecessarily harsh and violent – he wanted to use a catch pole, pull the coyote out of the carrier as it struggled and fought against such force and pin it down, and fasten the ear tag. The rehabilitators had offered to tag Hal gently themselves, but were told “No”.

As soon as the trusting wildlife rehabilitator handed over the coyote to this group, Hal was snared around the neck with a catchpole, and fought as he was dragged out of the carrier this way. Any animal would have fought this type of handling. As wildlife rehabilitators we NEVER use this method as it is unnecessary, dangerous and harmful to the animals. As Hal fought for his life, his muzzle was taped firmly shut, and then he was hog tied. Again, this is highly unprofessional and unnecessary restraint for a coyote. Imagine the stress and terror the coyote felt.

The individual proceeded to straddle the struggling, exhausted coyote and then sat on him for about ten minutes until his chest rose no more. The news says “Hal suddenly and inexplicably died during the ear-tagging process???”.   Mind you, tagging an ear is like using a hole punch – very quick and easy.  How many people do you know who died a violent death during an ear piercing?   For an experienced, knowledgeable and responsible wild animal handler, tagging should be very non-stressful on the animal, quick and easy.  But no – Not for THIS crew.

No consideration was given to Hal, who had been a perfect patient, a very docile, easily handled animal.  These people were obviously afraid and inexperienced.  They roughly handled, over handled, over tightened and pinned Hal for ten minutes, suffocating him.  Wouldn’t it have been much more humane to just put a bullet in his head?  I have worked with a lot of Eastern coyotes through the years, vaccinating, worming, checking teeth, and even bathing unrestrained, fully conscious, wild Eastern coyotes.  Why?  Because they are docile and easy to handle. A simple towel placed over the eyes and gently held in placed is the most restraint ever necessary.  Poor Hal died an agonizing, terrifying, and unnecessary death at the hands of a fearful inexperienced person who obviously has no affinity for or respect for wildlife.  Why is this person “studying” coyotes?  He certainly is not fond of them or knowledgeable about them.  Let us hope the group that caused Hal’s death takes responsibility for his unnecessary death, and learns from this travesty so that no wild animal is ever again subjected to such an agonizing demise.


I, along with many others, read with shock and sadness that Hal, the Central Park coyote, died during tagging. Those of us who’ve witnessed the tagging of wildlife by state game agents know how stressful and often painful it is.

Poor Hal, who never harmed a soul, couldn’t be tolerated. One 35-pound coyote, living in a forested area the size of the country of Monaco, had to be deported.

…and where was he going to go after being tagged? To state game lands, where he would no doubt be killed during the long hunting season that brings with it coyote killing contests. That “season” just ended on March 26th, but coyote killing continues throughout the year for “nuisance” claims.

I would bet that poor Hal was a refugee who fled from hunters upstate, and what better place to come to than NYC? It’s the only place where a coyote in NY can be safe, from hunters at least.

The game agents have it figured out. There’s no hunting in the spring and summer, thus allowing the young pups to be born, while ensuring a “crop” for the hunters next “season.”

Facing long hunting seasons, unlimited bag limits, and shooting contests, the individual coyote is doomed, but the species lives on.

We wish you a better life now, Hal. The tagging and allegedly humane transfer was a sham designed to lead the public to believe you were going to a better place. A religious person might say that his maker took him to that better place. The very saddest realization is that Hal’s untimely death spared him a worse fate. Hal must have known that he never stood a chance.

If you would like to stop sport hunting, please contact us:

Anne Muller, President
Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting
New Paltz, NY 12561


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561