PISCATAWAY, NJ - State wildlife officials have set up cable restraint devices in hopes of capturing the coyote they believe attacked two people on Rutgers' Livingston campus over the past week.
David Golden, who is the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife in the state's Department of Environmental Protection, said traps have been set in and around the 316-acre Rutgers Ecological Preserve that would restrain the coyote in a manner similar to a leash.
Golden said the animal is demonstrating atypical behavior since coyotes have a natural fear of humans. He said that is a strong indication that the animal that attacked students on Thursday (Nov. 14) and Monday (Nov. 18) is sick.
Speaking to members of the media via phone on Wednesday morning, Golden said officials are hoping to test the animal for rabies.
"In the interest of public safety, the animal will, unfortunately, need to be euthanized and then we will test it for rabies," he said. "To test it for rabies, we must euthanize the animal."
Rutgers University Police Chief Kenneth Cop told reporters that a man walking on Livingston Campus was treated and released from a local hospital after being bit on the leg Thursday.
Four days later, a man walking on Road 3 near Suttons Lane at about 7:30 p.m. was approached by a coyote. The coyote bit his pant leg before running away. The man, who was not a student or an employee of Rutgers, was not hurt.
Cop said Rutgers police have sent out messages with safety tips to the university community. The police have also closed the preserve, increased police patrols in the immediate area and are working with Division of Fish and Wildlife and local police "develop a plan."
Cop said that students and faculty concerned by the recent attacks can request to use the university's safety escort service.
He said that any students or faculty approached by a coyote should follow DEP guidelines that include making yourself look as big as possible.
Golden also suggested to "make loud noises" to scare the animal away.
"If the coyote appears to be sick or aggressive, people should absolutely keep their distance," he said. "If the animal approaches, they should pick up something to do whatever they can to ward the animal off. If they are on a bike, get off the bike and put the bike between them and the animal. They should call for help and report any sighting of animals that appear to be sick or aggressive to Rutgers PD or call 911."
Golden also said that if the animal is sick with rabies or other illness, it will likely not make it more than a week before dying.