Cliff the Coyote captured, taken to undisclosed location
NEWPORT, R.I. —
The Aquidneck Island Coyote known as Cliff was captured Wednesday morning, NBC 10 has learned.
Cliff was caught in a residential area near Newport’s famous Cliff Walk after experts said he became a little too comfortable around humans. His last day in Newport was spent in on Annandale Road, located two blocks from the area that gave him his name.
Human kindness turned Cliff into a potential danger for locals and tourists alike. Police said neighbors were feeding the coyote, which encouraged him to live in populated areas.
“Because of that, he’s lost fear of people and tended to approach people,” Dr. Scott Marshall, a state veterinarian, said. “So, the town of Middletown determined that he needed to be removed.”
Cliff was spotted lingering around bus stops, unafraid of people. Police said the coyote had become an “unpredictable” threat, as they couldn’t safely say Cliff wouldn’t harm people he came across.
Two options were on the table.
Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford was first supposed to take Cliff, but that option became too costly and risky.
"Wild animals that are relocated into a zoo don’t generally assimilate very well, they tend to be very stressed out,” Marshall said.
The Rhode Island DEM decided to make an exception to its rules and allow Cliff to be moved to another part of Rhode Island -- an undisclosed area with fewer people -- after sending him to a zoo or killing him was ruled out. But that move won't guarantee a happy ending.
"The thing that Cliff has going for him is he's a beta,” Dr. Numi Mitchell, who leads the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study, said. “He's got a very mild temperament.”
Mitchell had been studying the coyote's tracks since December.
"We found Cliff actually sleeping on that corner and we were able to dart him as we walked by,” Mitchell said while looking at the tracker. “He ran across -- he ran down here along the brush line, reached a wall, and then ran here, and fell asleep right in this backyard.”
The DEM won't say where Cliff was taken after he was tranquilized, but they noted that he'll need to cross a bridge before gets back to Newport.
Now that Cliff will be out of the limelight, veterinarians are urging the public to let him go.
"We want to resume his anonymity as just another coyote, where he’s not going to be identified, we don’t want people going to try and find him,” Marshall said. “He has achieved some celebrity status, unfortunately. And for his safety, and for public safety, we’re not disclosing where we relocated him to.”
Marshall also reminded the public to only enjoy wildlife from far away and do nothing to bring the animals closer to homes.
“Don’t feed wild animals, that’s just the bottom line,” Marshall said.