Spectators gathered along the East River Esplanade Monday afternoon watching as a dramatic rescue played out right in front of their eyes, like something out of a blockbuster movie. Two NYPD Harbor Unit vessels raced to save a coyote spotted in the river that had been treading water for hours near East 96th Street on the Upper East Side, police say.
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The first call for help came in around 2:15 pm for what was believed to be a dog that had fallen in the East River. Officers arriving by land, air and water quickly recognized that the animal in the water was no regular dog — it was a coyote.
With an NYPD Aviation helicopter hovering overhead, officers on police boats were able to pull the exhausted animal from the East River, keeping it covered under blankets on the back of their vessel, which then docked along the side of the Department of Sanitation’s 91st Street Marine Transfer Station on the Upper East Side.
Roughly a half hour later, additional officers from the NYPD’s 19th Precinct arrived with a large dog crate to contain and transport the wild animal.
In a single quick, sweeping move, cops with the Harbor Unit scooped the coyote up into the crate, blankets and all, then closed it.
Officers then carried the crate from the boat to a waiting NYPD interceptor which was parked along the narrow shoulder of the FDR Drive, carefully slipping the precious cargo through a gap in the wrought iron fence separating the roadway from the esplanade.
Police said the coyote was then transferred to the veterinarians at Animal Care Centers of NYC in East Harlem for further medical evaluation and care.
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It’s not clear where the coyote came from or how it ended up in the East River, however, coyote sightings are not rare in New York City. Coyotes are known to live within The Bronx, Queens and Manhattan — including in Central Park.
Update: NYC ACC says the coyote, a female, will be released into the wild once she is fully recovered.
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