Saturday, June 15, 2019

Coyote Attack in Fairfield

On June 13, 2019, at approximately 6:56 P.M., Fairfield police officers were dispatched to the Fairfield Recreation Complex, located at 221 Hollywood Avenue, to investigate a report of a coyote that just attacked two people. Fairfield is a township in far northwestern Essex County, New Jersey. The initial investigation revealed that a 37 year old female from Fairfield was walking in the park pushing her 4 year old son in a stroller. She 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. The victim fell to the ground and the stroller tipped over. The coyote allegedly 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. At this time, other individuals began to run towards the victim at which time she was able to get up and right the stroller. She attempted to flee at which time the coyote again lunged at her. The coyote then ran into the adjacent wooded area. Both victims were transported to an area hospital for treatment and an evaluation.

The Fairfield Police Department immediately closed the recreation complex to all additional activities to include a youth soccer game on the park’s turf field and a pick-up basketball game on the courts. The New Jersey Conservation Department, the Department of Environmental Protection, and Associated Humane were all contacted for assistance and responded.

Police officers then began searching the immediate area for the coyote. At approximately 8:36 P.M., Sergeant Frank Tracey was in the area of 244 Big Piece Road when he thought he saw a coyote traveling along a fence line. He exited his police vehicle with his M4 patrol rifle and made his way into the back yard. He initially noticed a cat in the yard and thought that is what he saw. A few moments later, a coyote emerged from behind a pool and began to aggressively approach the officer. In order to protect himself, the officer fired several shots, striking the coyote and killing it. The Associated Humane Society took possession of the carcass in order to conduct testing for rabies.

As this incident was unfolding, several residents along Big Piece Road notified the police that a resident’s Doberman Pincher was attacked last evening by a coyote. It is unclear if this is 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.

“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” said the chief.

There will continue to be a police presence in the park at this time along with increased police patrols in the Big Piece Road area. The Department of Fish and Game were present earlier today and set several traps in hopes of catching any other coyotes. They were able to identify several dens in the area as well and will be monitoring them over the next several days.

There still exists a population of coyotes in the area and we cannot be sure that another incident will not occur. Anyone using the park as well as those travelling in the Big Piece Road area should exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings. Try to remain in pairs or groups, carry a charged cell phone, keep dogs on leashes while walking and do anything else you may feel would be necessary to protect your safety.

The Fairfield Recreational Complex located at 221 Hollywood Avenue will have limited operations. The following entrances to the park are CLOSED until further notice: Green Meadows Road entrance, Holly Drive entrance, Big Piece Road Entrance. All closed entrances are closed by orange barrels and caution tape. Please do not walk around or remove these items. They are there for your protection.

SOURCE: Press release from the Township of Fairfield

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

The following coyote precautions come from the NJ Fish and Game website.

Coyote Precautions

The following guidelines can help reduce the likelihood of conflicts with coyotes:
  • Never feed a coyote. Deliberately feeding coyotes puts pets and other residents in the neighborhood at risk.
  • 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.
  • Put garbage in tightly closed containers that cannot be tipped over.
  • Remove sources of water, especially in dry climates.
  • Bring pets in at night.
  • Put away bird feeders at night to avoid attracting rodents and other coyote prey.
  • Provide secure enclosures for rabbits, poultry, and other farm animals.
  • Pick up fallen fruit and cover compost piles.
  • Although extremely rare, coyotes have been known to attack humans. Parents should monitor their children, even in familiar surroundings, such as backyards.
  • Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Coyotes are typically secretive animals not often seen or heard. Yet there are times during the year when they are more visible and more vocal. Although usually nocturnal, coyotes can be seen any time of day, especially during the breeding season from late January into early March. Vocalizations, consisting of howls, yips and barks, also increase at this time.

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