A police helicopter was called to chase off a coyote that wandered onto the runway and led to a temporary shutdown of operations at Sacramento Executive Airport on Thursday afternoon just east of Freeport Boulevard.

The Sacramento Police Department was called to the airport about 4:30 p.m., after the coyote was spotted lying on a runway, said Officer Karl Chan, a department spokesman. He said officials in the airport tower called for help.

“The coyote lying on the runway led to the complete shutdown of the airport,” Chan said. “This is hazardous, because it causes a backup in airspace, and causes congestion in the air.”

The police helicopter chased around the coyote as it raced along the runway. The helicopter moved at a low altitude in an effort to shoo away the coyote into the neighboring areas, where it came from, Chan said.

Chan said he didn’t know if a Sacramento police helicopter has ever been called before to chase a coyote off an airport runway.

But Chan assured that the police pilots are highly trained, and the maneuvers done Thursday to chase off the coyote are the same ones they use “with any takeoff or landing at an airport.”

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Chan said the coyote was last seen heading south of the airport.

Bing Maloney Golf Course is directly south of the airport. A KCRA TV news report of the airport chase indicated the coyote left the area through a nearby drainage pipe.

Earlier in February, a resident got photos of coyotes chasing a cat in midtown Sacramento.

The city’s Animal Control Department has picked up 11 coyotes in the past two years, seven of which were already dead.

In that time, there was one report of a coyote biting a dog off its leash, and no reports of coyotes biting people.

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