EDITOR'S NOTE: A photo of the coyote was not included in this article, as it may be disturbing to some readers.
FAIRFIELD, NJ — A coyote that is suspected of attacking a mother and child at Hollywood Avenue Park on Thursday evening just before 7 p.m. was terminated by police and could possibly be rabid, according to Fairfield police.
Officers were dispatched to the Fairfield Recreation Complex, located at 221 Hollywood Avenue, to investigate a report of a coyote that had attacked a 37-year-old female from Fairfield and her 4-year-old son, who was in a stroller.
According to police, the initial investigation revealed the mother was in the area between the tennis courts and the Fairfield Community Pool, which is adjacent to a wooded area. As she was walking, another individual who was also walking alerted her to the fact that there was a coyote walking directly behind her. When the female turned around to see for herself, the coyote lunged at her, police said.
The victim fell to the ground, the stroller tipped over and the coyote bit the adult female on the back of her leg. The coyote then attempted to go after the child, biting him on his right leg.
Police said that when other individuals began to run toward the victim, she was able to get up and righted the stroller, but the coyote lunged at her again when she attempted to flee. The coyote then ran into the adjacent wooded area, according to police. Both victims were transported to an area hospital for treatment and an evaluation.
“The Fairfield Police Department is still cautioning all residents in the area of Big Piece Road and all those who use the recreation complex that they still need to exercise great caution when walking around their yards or in the park,” said Chief Anthony G. Manna. “The police department intends to deploy officers with rifles in the park and at several scheduled events taking place at the community pool and a nearby school to assure the safety of the public as best as we can.”
The recreation complex was closed to all additional activities, including a youth soccer game on the park’s turf field and a pick-up basketball game on the courts, according to police. The New Jersey Conservation Department, the Department of Environmental Protection, and Associated Humane were all contacted for assistance and responded.
After searching for some time in the immediate area, Sgt. Frank Tracey located a coyote traveling along a fence line in the area of 244 Big Piece Road when he thought he saw a coyote traveling along a fence line at approximately 8:36 p.m. He made his way into the back yard with his M4 patrol rifle, thinking that he saw a cat; but a coyote emerged from behind a pool a few moments later and began to aggressively approach the officer.
In order to protect himself, the officer fired several shots, striking the coyote and killing it, according to police. The Associated Humane Society took possession of the carcass in order to conduct testing for rabies.
As this incident was unfolding, police said that several residents along Big Piece Road notified police that a resident’s Doberman Pincher was attacked by a coyote the previous evening. According to police, it is unclear whether this was the same animal, as the residents described that coyote as being much larger.
Several Big Piece Road residents have reported seeing and hearing a large number of coyotes behind their homes, police said.
Authorities are urging residents not to approach coyotes and to contact the Fairfield Police Department immediately by dialing 9-1-1 or by calling 973-227-1400 if they see one.