Monday, March 28, 2011

Coyotes

Coyote sightings in NJ will probably increase in the next month or so. Coyotes bear litters during April and May, and this is when encounters with humans is more likely to occur. Females deliver between three and nine pups, and they are most likely to cross paths with humans (and their pets) as the adults forage for food for the pups in the spring and summer.

Coyotes are very adaptable and though their preferred prey is rabbits, mice, birds and other small animals, they will use whatever is available, such as garbage, pet food and domestic animals that are left unattended and carrion that they find. And, like our Jersey black bears, they are learning to be quite tolerant of human activities and allowing both species access to human food and garbage can lead to problems.

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

Coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem, helping to keep rodent populations under control.

"Blonde" coyote
The coyote is a wild member of the dog family. This resourceful mammal has expanded its range significantly in the recent past, colonizing the entire Northeast and now found throughout the Garden State.

The coyote was never introduced or stocked in New Jersey, but has firmly established itself in our area through its extremely adaptable nature.

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


photos via http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/
The NJ Department of Environmental Protection recommends that residents
  • put garbage in tightly closed containers that cannot be tipped over to prevent bear and coyote foraging. 
  • reduce the protective cover for coyotes by clearing brush and dense weeds from around homes.
  • be more cautious about children and pets being on their own even in their backyards. 
  • in response to a coyote encounter, do not  run, because that initiates the "prey instinct" in the animal and the coyote will go into pursuit mode. Rather, act aggressively - "yelling, waving your arms, stamping your feet, or throwing stones” until it leaves.

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