New Jersey officials are alerting the public of recent local sightings of coyotes. There have been news reports of coyote sightings in Middlesex, Monmouth, and Union Counties this summer. Due to the nature of coyotes to adapt, they are able to survive and even expand in numbers within the entire state with occurrences documented in 21 counties. Coyotes prefer to prey on rabbits, mice, birds, and small mammals but they will scavenge to survive on anything available, including garbage and companion animal. With a recent surge in sighting of coyotes in suburban and urban areas, it is important to keep an eye on your small pet. The New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife has provided guidelines to reduce contact with coyote in your neighborhood. Here are some precautions to reduce your likelihood of encounters:
• Never feed a coyote. Deliberately feeding coyotes puts pets and other residents in the neighborhood at risk.
• Feeding pet cats and/or feral (wild) cats outdoors can attract coyotes. The coyotes feed on the pet food and also prey upon the cats.
• Put garbage in tightly closed containers that cannot be tipped over.
• Remove sources of water, especially in dry climates.
• Bring pets in at night.
• Put away bird feeders at night to avoid attracting rodents and other coyote prey.
• Provide secure enclosures for rabbits, poultry, and other farm animals.
• Pick up fallen fruit and cover compost piles.
• Although extremely rare, coyotes have been known to attack humans. Parents should monitor their children, even in familiar surroundings, such as backyards.
• Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
• Clear brush and dense weeds from around dwellings - this reduces protective cover for coyotes and makes the area less attractive to rodents and rabbits. Coyotes, as well as other predators, are attracted to areas where rodents are concentrated like woodpiles.
• If coyotes are present, make sure they know they're not welcome. Make loud noises, blast a canned air siren, throw rocks, or spray them with a garden hose.
Officials say that coyote attacks on humans are very rare, however with access to human foods, and their scavenger like activity they can start to move closer to property lines causing damage, threats and endangerment to domestic pets. It is important that if you observe coyotes to report your sighting to the Department of Fish and Wildlife at 908-735-8793 or your local police department.