Coyote Rescue, Video, Stills and Freezing Temperatures

Coyote on an ice flow on the Charles River, Cambridge side behind the Sonesta Hotel and rescuers on the way.

The first call I heard and there I was in the middle of a snow storm, slippery roads, poor visibility, red traffic lights, McDonald’s pit stop and with what little traffic there was on the roads seemed to be in front of me. Then it took 10 minutes to get through every traffic lighted intersection while my patience waned.

It seemed like I could not get a break. What was normally a 25 minute ride turned into almost an hour and every minute it took me to get there put the rescuers from the Animal Rescue League closer to their prey.

The good news was when I did get there the rescuer in the wet suit was just being lowered  via a rope into the Charles.  A frontend loader which cleared some of the snow had the  ropes tied to it and Sgt. Jim Deyermond of MSP in control of the ropes.

As I tried to park and watch at the same time there was a NECN team there, Mark Garfinkle  of the Herald with all is lens, youth and knowing what to do and the man who makes me  feel young Al McNaughton from WHDH who will be 73 in March. I hate being late and last.

I did not think I had time to put on my two rain jackets, one for me and one for the camera  so we both were not covered properly, plus I have a tough time working with gloves so  my hands were uncovered. The good news was as soon as I dragged myself, video camera,  still camera and tripod to the railing overlooking the Charles the coyote was no more than  30 feet from me struggling to stay afloat on an ice flow.

The rescuer had the snare hook rope on a pole and the plan was to grab the “wild dog” and  drag it to the boat docks near where we were. The only problem with the plan is the  Coyote was not going along with it. As the rescuer made progress going towards the coyote the coyote would keeping moving further away, falling through ice holes and pulling herself up. The rescuer was hoping it would be stuck with half its body in the water so it could be “saved.”

I was using the video camera then the still camera then the video camera. For what I do the video was more important for what I wanted the still camera was more fun. The only time I do coyote stories in my 44 years was after it attacked a domestic animal or was a safety nuisance. Coyotes are not taken happily or lightly in this area.

The rescue operation went on for about 20 minutes, I shot 12 minutes of tape, took 20 something stills and the last shot was of the animal making its way across the Charles back to Boston. (One theory from Nancy Bent on the assignment desk is the people on Beacon Hill put her on an iceberg as it was probably a cousin of the one that menaced Louisburg Square last month).

I was frozen when I got through; the cold had gone through me. My hands were numb along with my well booted feet. I was so cold I was nauseous. I thought my day was over as I could not feel anything but pain. It took about 20 minutes to get back to feeling comfortable. The good news is the station website ran 17 photos and the pain seemed to be worth it.

The rescuers packed up their gear and went looking for her on the Boston side of the Charles. A few hours later we were notified she was captured and brought to the Tufts Veterinary Hospital in Grafton in good shape.

She was scheduled to be released this past weekend into a safe environment.

Video on

Not my first animal rescue on the Charles.

In January of 1978 I was about 100 yards from these same docks at the MIT boat house where there was a dog stuck on the ice. I got there with the first arriving police and brought my Golden Retriever down to the dock to try and lure the dog back to safety.

“Glossy” barked and wagged her tail and the dog made it back to land. Something like the movie we saw last night, “No Strings Attached.”

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