NEW JERSEY - Since they were first spotted living in Hunterdon County during the 1940s, Coyotes have since been documented in all 21 counties throughout New Jersey. Predominantly found in areas of Eastern Canada, New EngIand and the tri-state region, their numbers increased substantially after the 1980s.
The Eastern Coyote, as New Jersey's breed is formally known, is, in fact, a wild member of the dog family and is at times mistaken for a wolf. Usually viewed from a distance, the Coyote can best be identified by its bushy, black-tipped tail which it normally holds out horizontally, even while running and walking. It can also be noted by its long snout; the Coyote otherwise closely resembles a small German Shepherd dog.
Eastern Coyotes weigh roughly 30 to 40 pounds more than their Western Coyote relatives. The female is larger than the male and both genders range in color from dark brown to blond or reddish blond, though the most common coat is gray-brown, with reddish ears, legs, and flanks. Coyotes, as a rule, are extremely adaptable; both Eastern and Western are able to readily survive and thrive in nature. The Eastern breed tends to be more playful and less combative than its Western counterpart.
Increasingly, Eastern Coyotes are being spotted among the commotion of city dwellers and the bustle of suburban traffic.
While it may not be unexpected to see a Coyote wandering around a rural area, particularly in the evening, it can be quite alarming to find them crossing an urban city street or exploring a neighborhood's backyards in the broad daylight.
"A common misconception by many is that
Rural communities well know that the Coyote will prey on whatever is easy to scavenge and manageable to kill. Taking advantage of whatever is available, the Coyote will also feast on household garbage, pet food, and even small house pets that are left unattended. Otherwise, their diet of mostly small creatures regularly includes:
Coyotes will also hunt in pairs and during hard winters, have been known to hunt, and kill, healthy adult deer. However, during this time period, they are more likely to feed on animals killed along roadsides by vehicles.
By nature, the Eastern Coyote is afraid of humans; this will change if they are given more access to human foods and garbage. While the State of California has documented cases of Western Coyotes attacking humans who were feeding them, there have not been any documented cases of Eastern Coyotes attacking humans. It is only in the most rural regions that they appear to cause any nuisance to homeowners at all.
Coyotes tend to mate during the cold of winter; females bear their litters during the Spring, usually delivering between three to nine pups. The offspring will stay with its parents until its about ten months old.
Generally, Coyote dens are found in heavily wooded, inconspicuous areas, often dug under tree roots or against structures. The entrance hole is about the size of a basketball, and it opens into a deep underground chamber.
This video taken in Seekonk, Massachusetts, demonstrates how industrious the Eastern Coyote can be while constructing its den.
The following guidelines from the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife are used as precautions to safeguard against incidences of conflicts with wildlife, including the Coyote:
Recently, Coyotes were added to the list of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife animals which may be controlled by homeowners if they are found to be causing damage. Any incidents involving aggressive, non-yielding coyotes - or any wild animal - should be immediately reported to local police as well as reported to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife's Control Unit at 908-735-8793.