EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - The East Brunswick Police Department issued an advisory on June 17, warning residents of a coyote sighting near Heavenly Farms Park on Dunhams Corner Road. In January, the Spotswood Police Department issued a similar warning to borough residents after a coyote was spotted in the woods behind Clearwater Village.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife states coyote attacks on people in the Garden State are rare though there have been occasional attacks on small pets. Coyote sightings have been on the rise in New Jersey since the early 80s. Last week a mother walking with her child in a stroller were attacked by a coyote in a park in Fairfield. The pair received minor injuries and the coyote was shot by a Fairfield police officer. The coyote is currently being tested for rabies.

The most recommended way to help reduce the likelihood of a negative encounter with a coyote is to not feed pets outdoors. Leaving pet food outside can attract a coyote. This includes not leaving food and water outside for feral cats. Coyotes are attracted to the food and also feed on small animals like cats. Feeding coyotes also lures the animals to residential properties, which can lead to incidents since the coyote will lose its instinctive fear of humans.

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The Division of Fish and Wildlife also offers the following suggestions to deter coyotes:

  • Keep garbage can lids and cans tightly secured.
  • Remove water sources on the property.
  • Do not leave pets outside at night.
  • Remove bird feeders since they also attract the small animals coyotes prey on.
  • Pick up any fruits or berries on the ground around residential properties.
  • Securely cover compost piles.
  • Watch small children when they are outside in the yard.
  • Clear brush and weeds from around residential properties.
  • Install motion-sensitive lighting.

Most often coyotes avoid contact with humans unless the animal has lost its fear of people. This generally  occurs when coyotes are fed by people. If a person does encounter a coyote, he or she should not run. Instead, make loud noises or throw a rock to let the coyote know it is not welcome.

Any coyote spotted during the daytime hours that does not seem to be spooked by people should be reported immediately to the local police department according to the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Coyotes are considered to be noctural animals though coyotes living within close proximity to residential communities tend to also be active in the early morning hours and the hours near sunset.

For additional information on coyotes, visit the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife's website.

The non-emergency number for the Spotswood Police Department is 732-251-2121. For emergencies, borough residents should dial 911.