Tag Archive | "Van Cortlandt Park"

Bronx Cricketers Push For More Pitches

The Columbia Cricket Club and the Long Island Kings play a cricket match at Van Cortlandt Park on Sept 22. © Syra Ortiz-Blanes

Dressed in classic cricket whites, the players waited for their batsman to play the match’s crucial moment in Van Cortlandt Park. The Columbia Cricket Club had only one more chance to beat the Long Island Kings, who had scored 114 runs. As the bowler pitched the ball, the players watched from their place on the cricket pitch. When the batsman struck the winning run, they erupted into cheers. Their teammates on the sidelines stormed the field. Columbia Cricket Club had chased 115 runs with three wickets to spare. The team was going to the league playoffs.

Columbia Cricket Club players cheer on their teammates who are on the field. © Syra Ortiz-Blanes

Every weekend, the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park becomes a hub for New York City cricket. On a Sunday morning in late September, the 1 train headed to the borough was packed with players lugging their bats and equipment. Family and friends set up beach chairs on the sidelines to watch games. Spectators kept score and retired players served as umpires. South Asian and Caribbean music played from portable speakers.

Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx are among the country’s cricket hotspots. In New York City alone, there are more than 200 teams.

Experts say the sport is one of the fastest-growing in the United States. The Bronx is home to immigrants from some of the world’s most cricket-devout countries, including a Bangladeshi population that has more than tripled since 1990.

The Columbia Cricket Club and the Long Island Kings shake hands after the game finishes. © Syra Ortiz-Blanes

“Cricket gives us identity. It’s like a culture to us. It’s like a religion. We can’t stop playing,” said Lokendra Chauhan, President of the Columbia Cricket Club.

Players from the Columbia Cricket Club, one of the largest clubs in New York City, are from India, Australia, Antigua, Pakistan, South Africa, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. It also has one of the few American-born players in the city, an Irish school teacher with no tradition of the sport. 

For many immigrants, playing is a way to remain close to home and build community as they navigate life in the United States. “You have been living in one country, you leave everyone and everything behind for a better future,” said Chauhan, who is from India.

“Cricket brings us a family life.” 

But the rapidly-growing, cricket-loving immigrant population has put increased pressure on the Bronx’s pitches, with demand for playing time exceeding available fields, according to borough cricket leadership.

The Bronx’s three home leagues—New York Cricket League, Commonwealth Cricket League, and the newer Royal Premier League—share the pitches at Van Cortlandt Park, Soundview Park, and Ferry Point Park. 

“We need to play. We need space. There is a demand for space on the weekends,” said Milford Lewis, who was president of the New York Cricket League for 11 years until 2017. 

A traditional cricket match lasts around five days, but the cab drivers, executives, waiters, doctors, lawyers, and janitors who play cricket in New York City can only play Saturdays and Sundays. In the Bronx, leagues usually play Twenty20, a shortened version of the sport played in three hours. But even the reduced game time hasn’t averted scheduling issues, since the Bronx has lost seven official pitches in the last six years. 

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The Parade Ground at Van Cortlandt Park. © Syra Ortiz-Blanes

In 2013, the Department of Parks and Recreation injected $15 million to redesign the Parade Ground, a 66-acre swath of land used for cricket, soccer, baseball, football, cross-country, and Gaelic football at Van Cortlandt Park. The space was closed for three years until the construction was finished. 

Renovations were a significant improvement—the pitches were made regulation size and designated exclusively for the sport with no field overlapping with other sports—but two fields were lost. It left the Bronx with 18, still more than any other borough. Brooklyn and Queens trailed behind with 16 and 13 fields respectively.

But other sports have since cut into cricket real estate. Just last year, the Department of Parks and Recreation took away two more pitches at the Parade Grounds to create three small-sided soccer fields.

The Bronx now has nine fields in Van Cortlandt Park and two in Ferry Point Park, putting the official number of dedicated pitches at 11. There is also a cricket pitch at Soundview Park and a softball field that doubles as a cricket pitch, but NYC Parks doesn’t list the spaces for play on its website as of September 2019, although players said they are still using them.

Our pitches were designated solely for cricket. Now we have to share it with soccer, share it with frisbee, share it with athletics,” said Lewis, who is from Guyana. “If we can at least get one or two other pitches put out for us at any other ground in the Bronx, we will be thrilled. Cricket wants to get bigger, so we need bigger spaces.” 

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Ravi Etwaroo, owner of Cricket Zone USA, pictured here with cricket bats at his Parkchester-based store. © Syra Ortiz-Blanes

Ravi Etwaroo, a Guyanese immigrant, has been running Cricket Zone USA, the Bronx’s only cricket store, since 2003. His clientele, which he estimates to be around 3,000 players from across the city, keeps him in the loop. Many of his customers complain about the need for more fields. Some say they have to commute to other boroughs to play. “Some have even stopped playing because it’s too inconvenient to play when you have to spend a whole day commuting and you have a family waiting at home,” Etwaroo said.

Leagues, in particular, are affected by the lack of space, since they are in charge of scheduling matches amongst their club members. They must apply to NYC Parks for a permit to play at public facilities. 

In 2017, twenty-two permits were approved, none were denied, and fourteen were withdrawn. In 2019, twenty-seven were approved, 4 were denied, and four were withdrawn. These statistics don’t include the Soundview pitch. 

 “NYC Parks works hard to accommodate space and scheduling needs for all of our permit applicants,” said Anessa Hodgon, a press officer for the Department of Parks and Recreation. “Denied applications typically stem from lack of availability.”

But permit statistics don’t account for individuals, non-affiliated teams, and smaller leagues who might also want space to play but don’t apply because established teams are often grandfathered into the same time slots year after year. People without permits will often just hop into a field that isn’t in use. 

They also don’t reflect league sizes. Commonwealth Cricket League has around 2,000 players and 162 teams across the city. “It’s the biggest cricket league in North America,” said President Lesley Lowe, who founded the league in 1980 with his father and brothers.

Lowe, the most senior cricket administrator in the country, agreed that there is a need for more fields, but doesn’t where they would go. “I’ve grown up here and played at Van Cortlandt since I was fourteen. I’ve scoped out the Bronx for pitches, inch by inch. A cricket field is twice the size of a baseball diamond. Where can we put that?” 

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The lack of fields doesn’t only affect adult male teams, who dominate New York City’s cricket scene. It’s especially difficult for women to form teams and carry out regular practice meets since men’s teams have established tenure over many of the grounds.

Samantha Ramautar’s official portrait for USA Cricket. © USA Cricket

Samantha Ramautar, a member of the women’s USA national cricket team, said that the lack of field availability impacts New York’s female cricket players, who only get together once or twice to play during the summer. She trains in a New Jersey facility that is one and a half hours away.

“We don’t get as many opportunities as the guys do,” she said, “If there were more facilities, you’d find more women that wouldn’t feel intimidated playing with the guys, and we would have more leagues.” 

New York City is also the only city in the United States with cricket teams at public high schools. Three of the 34 participating schools are in the Bronx.“The public school cricket athletic league is the brainchild of the development of cricket in New York City,” said Milford Lewis, who has been an umpire since 1996 and often runs youth games. 

Lewis says that the youth teams serve as feeders for the cricket scene, but that can be difficult to sustain when they don’t have regular, dedicated space to play. “They have to start playing in April to make sure everyone has time to use the pitches. I’ve done games where the temperature was in the 50s. Their hands are cold, their feet are cold, their faces are cold.” 

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Bronx Community Board 9 Chairman William Rivera is working with NYC Parks to create the first cricket-dedicated pitch in his district at Pugsley and Randall Avenues. Rivera was inspired to pursue this initiative when he attended a cricket award ceremony at Parkchester’s Starling Avenue, which is a predominantly Bangladeshi area.“Children in my district grew up watching this sport in their birth countries, grew up watching their parents, and moved here later learning that this sport they love doesn’t have a real outlet for them to play,” he said. 

USA Cricket, which was re-organized by the International Cricket Council last year, is hoping to rehabilitate New York’s cricket infrastructure as it invests $1 billion in the sport across the country over the next ten years. Its ambitious plans include a cricket stadium for international play in New York City. The Bronx is on the list of potential locations because of its large green spaces and vibrant cricket scene. 

“If Bronx comes and says, we are ready to partner with you and we’ll give you a ten-acre park, we will help. Even if we forget about the stadium, even if they are looking to put a turf pitch, we are ready for that too,” said USA Cricket Club Director Ajith Baskar.  

The pitch above is covered with Astroturf, but has clay underneath instead of concrete. When it rains, there is inconsistent ball bounce and pitch variations. Having high-quality grass pitches is a priority for players in New York City.

“That would be heaven,” said Columbia Cricket Club President Lokendra Chauhan. © Syra Ortiz-Blanes

Rather than creating more playing spaces, some cricket players believe that enhancing the current pitches could make the usage of space more efficient. Implementing floodlights, for example, could double playtime by making nighttime cricket possible. Better upkeep of the facilities, such as keeping grass short and installing natural turf pitches, would help New York teams train to compete at an international level. In turn, raising the sport’s visibility could give clubs and leagues leverage as they advocate for more space. 

“If we have ambitions in New York to be delivering players that can step up at a high club and international level, the facilities here are inadequate at the moment to provide for that,” said Sumantro Das, a Columbia Cricket Club player from New Delhi.

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After winning its match against the Long Island Kings, the Columbia Cricket Club huddled together in a circle to debrief. Team officers gave a rousing speech to their players. They were proud of the work their team had done to secure the win. After the game, the players went for drinks to celebrate their victory.

This is what keeps bringing Das, who has been playing with his club for the last ten years, to the cricket pitches in the Bronx. He played professionally with the Birmingham League in England two summers ago and enjoys the competition and the thrill. But it’s the community aspect of it that he loves.

“This scene is vibrant. It’s exciting. The full breadth of diversity is incredible. It’s economic, it’s national, it’s community-wide, it’s international. It’s a beautiful picture.”

The Columbia Cricket Club storms the field after winning its match against the Long Island Kings on Sept 22. © Syra Ortiz-Blanes
A player from Columbia Cricket Club takes off his legs pad, used by batsmen and wicket keepers to protect their legs from the hard leather balls used in cricket. © Syra Ortiz-Blanes
The Columbia Cricket Club celebrates its victory against the Long Island Kings on Sept 22. © Syra Ortiz-Blanes


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Bronx Kids: Lace Up Your Skates

The new skating rink under construction in Van Cortlandt Park. (MARGARET BADORE / TheBronx Ink)

For the past three decades, any Bronx child who wanted to learn to figure skate or play hockey had to travel to either Yonkers, Rye, or one of Manhattan’s outdoor park rinks.

“When I started skating the closest rink was Rye Playland,” said Lauren Hunt, 27, who grew up in Throgs Neck and is now the skating school director at World Ice Arena in Flushing, Queens. Few of her friends in Throgs Neck knew how to skate. “I was fortunate enough to have a mother who was willing to drive to Westchester and beyond.”

A new city ice skating rink in Van Cortlandt Park is expected to  to change this. Scheduled to open on November 15th, the new outdoor rink promises public skating sessions, performances and a skating school where children and adults can take classes.

Van Cortlandt Park was once home to a seasonal rink near the tennis courts, but it has been closed since 1983. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to bring an ice rink back to Van Cortlandt Park during his State of the City address at the beginning of 2011. A partnership between RD Management and Ekstein Development, which runs rinks elsewhere in New York City, won the bid to build it from the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy.

According to project manager Ron Kraut, the conservancy hopes to attract 50,000 to 60,000 visitors between November 15 and March 1. During the same four-month period last winter, World Ice Arena had over 82,000 visitors and City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City saw just under 33,000 skaters.

The rink’s management tapped Alana Kelton to run the skating school in part because her in-laws owned the prior Van Cortlandt Park rink, once known as Kelton’s Tennis and Ice Skating.  “I was familiar with the Riverdale area,” she said. Kelton has been teaching ice skating for over 40 years and is also the director of skating at the Hommocks Park ice rink in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

The skating school plans to follow the Ice Skating Institute’s learn-to-skate program, which is geared towards teaching new students the fundamentals. These classes teach basic skills needed to play hockey, figure skate or just ice skate for fun. Kelton said she likes the Institute’s program because the levels progress sensibly and allow skaters to move up quickly.

The new rink will be primarily aimed at recreational skating. “We’re going to focus on what the community wants,” said Kristi Tortorella, the general manager. “It’s mainly there as a service for the community, rather than being a competitive facility for skaters.”

Terence Mulvey, a Riverdale resident, said he thinks a nearby rink will be good for the area. He is considering enrolling his 7-year-old son in skating lessons. “Just yesterday, he expressed an interest in playing hockey,” said Mulvey.

For Kraut, the ice rink is a social gathering place where young people, families and children can find a common interest. “Our objective is to teach the Bronx how to skate.”

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The ecstasy and the agony of Ethiopian marathoners

Kingsbridge resident, Lemma, poses outside Central Park as his friend, Alem Ashebir looks on. (Mohammed Ademo/THE BRONX INK)

Fikadu Lemma braved the early November frost in Van Cortlandt Park on Saturday morning, pumping his legs, stretching his triceps, in a final half-hour push before his run in the world-class New York Marathon on Sunday.

“I am not nervous,” said the soft-spoken Ethiopian runner who has lived nearby in a Kingsbridge apartment for more than three years. Indeed, Lemma along with his two Ethiopian roommates, quietly trained for months, out of the media spotlight.

More attention has been paid to Ethiopia’s defending running champion, Gebre Gebremariam, and two Kenyans, Emmanuel and Geoffrey Mutai, who share a common name.

The Kenyans, who have increasingly dominated long distance races, vowed to not only win, but also to beat the record time. On Sunday, they did just that when Geoffrey crossed the finish line at 2:05:05, a New York Marathon record. Emmanuel followed 01:23 later, setting his own course record. The defending champ, Gebremariam, came in fourth.

Ethiopia’s Firehiwot Dado, 27, won the women’s title in 02:23:15 finishing four seconds ahead of Buzunesh Deba, the local favorite from the Bronx. Mary Keitany of Kenya, who was leading for much of the race, came in third. Other Ethiopian athletes didn’t fare quite as well.

Lemma, 28, who came in 18th in New York Marathon last year, finished a disappointing 19th this year. He had hoped that additional training and praying would help push him closer to number one this year.  “At the tenth mile mark, I felt pain in my leg. I pushed myself, but it was not good,” said Lemma.

Half a dozen Ethiopians, wearing scarves decorated with their country’s flag, gathered outside Central Park on West 69th Street to greet and to hug the runners. Lemma’s mood was not celebratory. “It’s okay,” one man shouted as Lemma walked away from the cameras.

Two things set Lemma apart from his fellow Ethiopian long-distance runners. He is tall, and he hails from West Shawa, which is in the Oromia region of the country. The majority of Ethiopian athletes come from the south-central highlands of Arsi.

A pioneer athlete from his local village in Ambo zone, Lemma had worked as a runner for 16 years, a career tainted by injuries that has taken him to Japan and around the world. He ran for a Japanese club before coming to the U.S., and prefers the shorter, and fast-paced cross-country run. But he has taken part in almost all types of races including the demanding Steeplechase.

Lemma has been running on and off in spite of a left leg injury. He usually runs 10K and half-marathon. As his injury steadily improved this year, Lemma started trying his luck with longer races. Since his return to the field four months ago, he’s won a number of smaller races including the Coney Island 5K race, the18th annual Pit Run 10K Race in Oneonta, New York, and the 11th annual Mayor’s Trophy 5K Run in New Jersey. Today, he clocked 02:20:41, five minutes and 29 seconds short of his personal best of 2:15:12 in the Marathon.

Many in Lemma’s rural village have barely heard of the Bronx. But the Bronx is home to 14 Ethiopian athletes, in total. Lemma shares a room in a West 195th Street apartment with two friends, Ketema Nigusse and Alem Ashebir, who also trained for Sunday’s race.

'Yes the Bronx' honors Ethiopian-born Kingsbridge resident with a billboard displayed at Willis Avenue Bridge post.(Mohammed Ademo/THE BRONX INK)

At Willis Avenue bridge post, activists from Yes the Bronx, a non-profit organization that seeks to challenge negative stereotypes about the borough, and Assemblyman, Marcos Crespo of District 85, shouted, “welcome to the Bronx,” standing under a billboard, “Energize Buzunesh Deba, Bronx’s Own”, as runners flew by.

New York offers many opportunities and challenges for the Bronx-based Ethiopian athletes. The city is a perfect gateway to races in the States as well as around the world. In Ethiopia, travel abroad can be daunting and disruptive to training schedules. From the Bronx, domestic travel is one short train ride to an airport in Manhattan with a possibility of a return flight home.

But the challenges are many. Lemma and most of his friends do not have a coach. He trains himself, often alone, when his friends are away competing in races around the country. He also has no health insurance, which could leave him financially strapped when he has a major injury. Lemma’s lower ankle injury, a likely culprit in today’s dismal performance, has gone untreated by a specialist as a result.

The professional athlete visa that grants them entry into the U.S does not allow them to hold regular jobs. So they have to make a living solely by running.

“This is our job and if you try hard, you can make a decent living out of it,” said Lemma, with a winning grin on a recent Thursday. He acknowledges that it can be tough when there are not enough races to go around. “Bills don’t give us a break when the sport does,” he said speaking in his native Oromo language.

In addition, his training grounds at Van Cortlandt Park and Central Park are not located at the high altitudes that are preferred by long distance runners.

To work around it, Lemma goes for longer distances at an increased pace. Some of his friends temporarily move to higher altitude locations in New Mexico, California, and Arizona. A handful visit and spend months in Ethiopia when training for highly selective races.

Sitting on the bench overlooking an empty Van Cortlandt football field three days before the Marathon, Nigusse and Lemma discussed the challenges of their chosen profession and a friendship that has survived their intense competition on the track.

Nigusse, for example, spent two months in Ethiopia training near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, this summer. That training paid off for the 30-year old father. Since returning from Ethiopia, he won Philadelphia’s 10-mile race, Brooklyn’s rock ‘n’ roll 10K, the Japan Day 4 Miler, and second place in the Pittsburg Marathon and the Straton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon.

Nigusse, who along with his wife is a permanent resident of the United States, first came to participate in Nashville’s Marathon in 2008. He has gone back and forth to Ethiopia numerous times since both to visit his son, Fraol, and to train. His son lives in Addis Ababa with his grandparents. Nigusse is already thinking ahead. That’s why he opened a sports clothing store in Addis Ababa.

“A rat with two holes can’t be trapped,” said Nigusse repeating a recognizable Oromo proverb. He insists he is not ready to quit. “I am just getting started and I’ve big hopes in the future.” Nigusse who decided against running in this year’s marathon, only hours prior to the race, gave no reasons.

Despite today’s performance, Lemma’s passion for the sport lives on. At the conclusion of the race, Lemma, who was limping, managed a wry smile and said, “I’ll go back to Ethiopia and train better for next year.”

“Sometimes that’s all you can do, try your best.”

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Bronx volunteers join citywide effort to plant 20K trees in one day, NY1

As part of an initiative to plant a million trees in the five boroughs by 2017, about 500 volunteers from the Bronx planted trees at the Van Cortland Park on Saturday morning, NY1 reported.

Organizers hope to plant 20,000 trees during the one-day event.

“We have our crews out in all of our parks to help maintain the trees, but we also invite New Yorkers to volunteer with us,” said Morgan Monaco of the Million Trees program.

 

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VIDEO – Gaelic Games Reaching Beyond the Irish Community

The gymnasium in the Church of the Visitation annex building at the southwestern corner of Van Cortlandt Park reverberated to the sounds of balls bouncing on its tiled floor, sneakers screeching against the gleaming surface and the wheezing of 13 energetic young women desperately trying to catch their breath. Pennants draped from the rafters commemorated the parish basketball team’s championships, but the hoops were firmly tucked away into storage on this night at the end of March. There were no free throws or slam dunks at this training session.

Having been rained out of their regular training field in Van Cortlandt Park, the players from the Fermanagh Ladies’ Gaelic football team were diligently going through their practice drills in preparation for the New York Ladies’ Gaelic Athletics Association season. The sport, largely unknown outside of Ireland, has seen fluctuating participation rates in New York, stretching back for more than 80 years, depending on the cycles of Irish immigration. Numbers are low in the current economic climate — only five women’s teams will compete for this year’s silverware — but The Bronx’s Irish community is taking steps to ensure that the game continues to thrive over 3,000 miles from its origins.

Gaelic football is thought to be one of the world’s oldest sports. According to a study by Jaime Oregan from Elon University in North Carolina, historical references to a form of the game being played in Ireland date to the 14th century. The modern game is best explained as a hybrid of soccer and rugby. Teams of 15 players play on a rectangular field with a round ball. The aim is to kick or strike the ball with the hand past a goalkeeper into a soccer-type goal for three points, or between posts rising above the goal for one point. Players cannot carry the ball in their hands for more than four steps without either bouncing it or dropping it to the foot and kicking it back into their grasp. The team scoring the most points at the end of two 30-minute halves wins the game.

Mary Murphy, a prominent member of the New York Ladies GAA board of officers, arrived to observe the girls as they practiced their kicking and hand-passing. She is familiar with the challenges of keeping the sport alive among New York’s Irish community, having been active in founding the women’s organization in 1991. “We didn’t have cell phones then, and we didn’t have computers,” she said. “So we stood at a corner candy store in Riverdale with fliers.” Before long there were enough participants to form a cluster of teams, largely named after the counties of Ireland, who have fought for the annual league championship every year since 1992.

Ms. Murphy, the daughter of Irish parents, was born in the Bronx in 1962 and grew up living near Fordham Road. “It used to be a big Irish neighborhood, from there all the way up to Woodlawn,” she said. “But then, one by one, the neighborhoods changed.” Today, Woodlawn remains as one of the last bastions of true Irishness in the city, and it serves as the base for most of Fermanagh’s team.

With the young native Irish population dwindling, the New York GAA launched the Gaelic 4 Girls organization in 2003 to promote the sport among the next generation, whether they be of Irish-American heritage or otherwise. There are now six youth teams from Under-8s to Under-18s who have competed against similar programs from Boston, Philadelphia, Ottawa, Chicago and San Francisco. Gaelic 4 Girls is host to summer training camps as well as arranging annual trips to Ireland where the New York girls can test their skills in competition against Irish teams. Results have been encouraging so far with a number of teams reaching the semifinals and finals of tournaments.

The investment in the next generation is also beginning to pay off in the ladies’ league. Of the 13 Fermanagh players training that night, Ms. Murphy said eight were American-born.

By the middle of the summer, the make-up of the Fermanagh team will be slanted toward native Irish girls as college students cross the Atlantic for work experience or to visit friends and family members. But thanks to the efforts of Ms. Murphy and her fellow board members, ladies’ Gaelic football in New York looks to be in a healthy state with or without another influx of Irish immigrants.

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Tribeca Coyote Will Be Taken to an Undisclosed Location

A statue of "Major the Coyote" stands by the southwestern entrance of Van Cortlandt Park. Photo: Ashley Harris/The Bronx Ink

A statue of "Major the Coyote" stands by the southwestern entrance of Van Cortlandt Park. Photo: Ashley Harris/The Bronx Ink

On Thursday, the Bronx Ink reported that city officials were considering releasing a wild coyote captured in Tribeca in Van Cortlandt Park. Today, we learned that the coyote’s final destination will be kept secret.

Officers with the New York City Emergency Services Unit caught the coyote on Thursday after shooting it with a tranquilizer dart in a parking lot on Watts Street and the West Side Highway. As of Friday morning, the coyote was being held at the New York City Animal Shelter on East 110th Street. According to the Health Department, the coyote was observed overnight and “was found to come out of tranquilization safely and appears healthy.”

The Health Department said the Parks Department is now working with New York Animal Care and Control “to release the animal in a city park that possesses a more suitable natural habitat for the coyote.” Though Van Cortlandt Park was considered as a possible home for the coyote, the Health Department said, “to avoid stressing the coyote, and disturbing its relocation process, we will not be releasing the name of the site where it will be relocated.”

This coyote might not be moving to the park, but the Bronx already has several of the animals in residence. Wild coyotes have been known to frequent both Van Cortlandt Park and nearby Woodlawn Cemetery.

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Tribeca Coyote May Find New Home in the Bronx

A statue of "Major the Coyote" stands by the southwestern entrance of Van Cortlandt Park. Photo: Ashley Harris/The Bronx Ink

A statue of "Major the Coyote" stands by the southwestern entrance of Van Cortlandt Park. Photo: Ashley Harris/The Bronx Ink

A wild coyote captured by the New York Police Department might be on its way to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. On Thursday morning, police officers working with the Emergency Services Unit caught the coyote in a parking lot at the corner of Watts Street and the West Side Highway. The animal was tranquilized, placed in a pet carrier, and transported to the New York City Animal Shelter on East 110th Street where it is still in custody.

Reached by phone on Thursday afternoon, a parks department spokesperson said they were in the process of determining if, where and when the coyote would be released. The 30-pound female coyote was first spotted downtown on Wednesday.

One of the potential destinations being considered for the coyote is Van Cortlandt Park, one of the only places in New York City with an established coyote population. Several wild coyotes already make their home in the park and the city has previously released other captured coyotes there. In 1998, a statue was erected by one of the park’s entrances in honor of, “the first confirmed coyote sighting in New York City since 1946.” That coyote, a female nicknamed Major, died on the nearby Major Deegan Expressway in February, 1995.

Coyotes are rarely found elsewhere in the five boroughs, but recently, the animals have been making an increasing number of appearances inside the city limits. In February, three coyotes were spotted on the Columbia University campus in Manhattan.

According to a 2006 report from Professor Emeritus Robert E. Chambers of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, coyotes have “been present in New York state at least since 1920” as they “extended their range eastward after wolves became extinct in the eastern U.S. and southern portions of Canada.” At the time Chambers said there were “between 20,000 and 30,000” coyotes living in New York.

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