MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) – A coyote known as Cliff who’s been roaming neighborhoods on Aquidneck Island has gotten a reprieve after residents took action online.
Cliff’s days of fearlessly roaming around Newport and Middletown are numbered. He was set to be put down Friday after police said he had some unsettling interactions with people in places where children were present. However, officials said the coyote will instead be relocated after thousands signed an online petition demanding his life be spared.
Newport City Councilman John Florez said it was his children that really brought Cliff to his attention.
“They were pushing me, ‘Daddy’ let’s do something about this. They knew more about Cliff that I did,” said Florez. “I ended up calling the police chief in Middletown and I threw an idea at him: what if we could raise the funds to tranquilize and transport him to a zoo or a refuge?”
Florez and his colleagues launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for Cliff’s transportation and talks are underway with Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford.
Cliff stands as the poster canine for an exploding coyote population on Aquidneck Island that Florez said didn’t exist 20 years ago. Authorities worry residents are both intentionally feeding them and improperly securing garbage.
“This is anomalous behavior. They’re out in the daytime, and it’s only going to get worse,” Florez added. “I think if we use the situation as an opportunity to really capitalize on a public awareness campaign, I think we could come up with some good solutions here.”
Florez said he’s interested in having a conversation with businesses and residents about proper trash disposal.