Cliff was one step closer to finding a new home, but Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management unfortunately ran out of time.

UPDATE: In a previous version of this story, we quoted Dr. Numi Mitchell of The Conservation Agency who stated that RIDEM was now in charge of the rescue operation and ultimately would decide Cliff’s fate.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) has taken charge of the Cliff rescue operation and will ultimately decide where is he relocated, according to Dr. Numi Mitchell of The Conservation Agency.

“AS of two days ago DEM has taken charge of the Cliff rescue operation. NBCS (Narragansett Bay Coyote Study) has been asked to assist in helping them (RI DEM) capture him safely. Middletown and Newport Police are also helping with the effort. DEM will ultimately decide where he is relocated.” Dr. Mitchell told What’sUpNewp on Thursday.

What’sUpNewp was provided with the following information in response to our previous story, the following comes from Dr. Scott Marshall, Rhode Island State Veterinarian for DEM.

This is not accurate, please allow me to provide correction.  Yesterday, DEM personnel (DEM Environmental Police and I) attempted to chemically immobilize the coyote in an effort to relocate him.  In this operation DEM was simply taking the lead and Dr. Mitchell was working under our direction to assist in the location of the animal.  The goal of this operation was to safely immobilize him and to relocate him to a remote area of the state where he would compete for his own territory.  In spite of the very professional efforts of our Environmental Police and Dr. Mitchell, we were unsuccessful in being able to get close enough to him to dart him.  Due to time constraints we terminated the operation yesterday afternoon.

During yesterday’s operations Dr. Mitchell asked how media inquiries should be handled regarding his relocation, so I advised that as long as DEM was assisting, and if we were successful, that our information officer would be the point of contact because that person would have the most comprehensive information.  At the termination of the unsuccessful operation yesterday we are no longer engaged in the relocation efforts.  The Department reserves the authority to re-engage at such time and in such a manner as we determine is in the best interest of public safety and environmental protection.

DEM has the sole authority to approve a disposition for this animal if captured.  We have considered many options, none of them are ideal.

Cliff the coyote is still on the run throughout Newport and Middletown at this time, after being spared from being killed last week.

Due to the enormous amount of support and public outcry for Cliff last week, Councilman Florez asked Middletown Police Department and Middletown Town Council for 3-5 days to raise funds to tranquilize and transport Cliff. At that time, Councilor Florez stated that he had made arrangement with a Massachusetts zoo and he created a GoFundMe page to aid in the campaign with the goal of $8,000.

Newport City Councilman John Florez toldThe Newport Daily News on Tuesday that the invitation from the Massachusetts zoo appears to be off the table and that Roger Williams Park Zoo lacks a suitable enclosure for the coyote, and building one would cost about $100,000.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the conversation continues with Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford, MA.

“We are working with the DEM and the Buttonwood Zoo. The goal is to find a permanent home there. The zoo originally rejected the proposition, following that we tried to get him into the Roger Williams zoo. That plan failed, Roger Williams rejected The idea of creating an exhibit for him. After which, the Buttonwood Zoo that we originally were in discussions with is now entertaining the idea of having him as a permanent guest. I’ll continue to keep everyone posted,” Councilor Florez said on our Facebook page on Tuesday.

Since Cliff has become so popular, several residents have reported sightings of a coyote (possibly Cliff) on Eustis Avenue and in area of school bus stops.

“Everyone is working towards the best possible outcome for Cliff,” Dr. Mitchell concluded.

Councilor Florez told us earlier this week that the funds raised from the online fundraiser will be used to raise awareness and hopefully prevent this from happening again;

“ALL funds raised will be donated to Numi’s group and help create an awareness program in Middletown and Newport. The public needs to be educated on the dangers of leaving garbage out. The proliferation of these creatures is a real concern.”


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Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.