EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - As I sat down to write this story, a lanky fox ran across my front lawn.  His exit drew my attention to the flowerless daffodil stems in my landscaping, the bright-organge blooms having become deer dinner earlier this week.  On a run out for some coffee this morning, I needed to pause for a goose parade across Riva Avenue, with one slacker fowl pausing to change his direction in the middle of the road.  This morning, my aging dog got the momentary thrill of chasing a newborn fawn in BiCentennial Park. Then I checked my EBPD Nixle reports and found out that  a coyote had been sighted near Heavenly Farms.  Wildlife has gone wild in East Brunswick.

The East Brunswick Police Department issued an advisory this week regarding a coyote sighting near Heavenly Farms and advised residents to be mindful and vigilant at all times and should take caution in leaving their pets unattended. 

Three days ago a mother and child were attacked by a coyote in Fairfield, New Jersey. They were both bitten in the struggle as a stroller tipped over and the coyote attempted to pull the child away.  Ultimately, a police officer short the animal.

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The coyote is a wild member of the dog family and closely resembles a small German shepherd with the exception of its long snout and bushy, black-tipped tail. Another key difference from a domestic dog is readily noticeable even from a distance: The coyote has a habit of holding its tail below a horizontal position while standing, walking and running.

Coyote in snow
A healthy NJ coyote is sometimes mistaken for a wolf. 
Click to enlarge

Eastern coyotes differ from their western counterparts with a larger average size and various color phases, including blonde, red and black. Past interbreeding between wolves and coyotes may be responsible for the larger size and color variations in our eastern coyote. In New Jersey, adult coyotes range in weight from 20-50 lbs. and exceptionally large ones may be up to 55 lbs. Coyotes adjust well to their surroundings and can survive on whatever food is available. They prey on rabbits, mice, birds and other small animals, as well as young and weakened deer. They also consume carrion (decaying tissue). They are tolerant of human activities and rapidly adapt to changes in their environment.


Eastern coyotes differ from their western counterparts with a larger average size and various color phases, including blonde and black.

Coyotes bear litters during April and May, with females delivering between three and nine pups. Conflicts between coyotes and humans are most likely to develop as adults forage for food for the pups in the spring and summer.

Coyotes primarily hunt rodents and rabbits for food, but will take advantage of whatever is available, including garbage, pet food and domestic animals that are left unattended. Allowing coyotes access to human food and garbage is irresponsible and can lead to problems.

Coyotes, along with foxes, are sometimes afflicted with mange which can result in significant hair loss. The loss of fur can result in making identification of a coyote difficult, resulting in reports of a "mystery" animal, or even a cougar.

In suburban and urban areas, coyotes have occasionally attacked small pets. Although attacks on humans are extremely rare in eastern states, as with any predatory animal they can occur.


The animal conservation/human protection group Wildlifehelp.org, provides the following guidelines regarding coyotes.  In addition, the following guidelines can help reduce the likelihood of conflicts with coyotes: 

1.Never feed a coyote. Deliberately feeding coyotes puts pets and other residents in the neighborhood at risk. 

2.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. 

3.Put garbage in tightly closed containers that cannot be tipped over. 

4.Remove sources of water, especially in dry climates. 

5. Bring pets in at night. 

6.Put away bird feeders at night to avoid attracting rodents and other coyote prey. 

7.Provide secure enclosures for rabbits, poultry, and other farm animals. 

8.Pick up fallen fruit and cover compost piles. 

9.Although it is extremely rare, coyotes have been known to attack humans. Parents should monitor their children, even in familiar surroundings, such as backyards. 

10.Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house. 

11.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. 

12.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.

(Information and photos from the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife.)