Skip to comments.Wily coyotes are at home in N.J. [Send school into lockdown]
Posted on 02/05/2006 3:22:11 PM PST by SJackson
Dee Garbowski of Wanaque hears them at night -- eerie howls and high-pitched yips echoing across the Ramapo mountain range like the soundtrack of a cheesy horror movie.
A seasoned animal handler, she knows the howls and yips aren't coming from monsters, wolves, or Bigfoot.
They belong to one of the nature's most adaptable predators -- the coyote.
"There are several coyote dens over there," Garbowski said of the mountain range in her neighborhood.
Cast in cartoons as mangy but lovable scavengers and once associated with the mountains, deserts and prairies of the Great West, coyotes have found a home in densely populated New Jersey, giving new meaning to the old state motto "New Jersey and You -- Perfect Together."
They inhabit all of the state's 21 counties.
"Their numbers are increasing, but I also say, and I firmly believe this, we're seeing more of them because of development," said Garbowski, who is president of Wildlife Freedom Inc., a group that rescues injured and orphaned wildlife.
"They're being pushed out. They don't know whether to go to the next woods or stay in the area, and adapt in the environment with humans. Of course, people don't always like it."
State game officials, alarmed by the coyote's rapid growth, approved the first-ever coyote hunt in the winter of 1997. They hoped to learn more about the coyotes. They were also mindful of complaints from farmers in Warren and Hunterdon counties who said coyotes were attacking small livestock.
Only five coyotes were killed during the two-week hunt, a testament to the animal's guile.
At the time, an estimated 1,500 coyotes roamed the state.
The state now harbors about 3,000 coyotes, said Karen Hershey, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Protection.
Coyote sightings are no longer rare events.
When teachers and residents in Waldwick spotted two or three coyotes near the Julia A. Traphagen School at noontime last month, they called police.
The school building went into "lockdown," and its 400 elementary-age students were kept inside for the rest of the day.
"We are supersensitive to the safety and security of the children," Superintendent Gregg Hauser said. School officials sent a letter home with the students, informing parents what had happened, asking them to instruct children on how to deal with wild animals, Hauser said.
The coyotes ran away when police showed up.
"The animals were not exhibiting aggressive behavior," acting Police Chief Mark Messner said. He said coyote sightings, especially at night, were not unusual in the area.
In a similar incident, this time in Morris County in the winter of 2002, students at the Lakeview Elementary School in Denville were kept inside during recess for several months after coyotes were spotted near the school.
The school is located near a wooded area, and parents had seen the coyotes near school bus stops, Denville Mayor Eugene Feyl said.
"I was surprised to find them in Denville," Feyl said of the coyotes.
During the scare, Feyl gave police permission to shoot the animals if they felt someone was threatened by them.
"The problem, thankfully, has vanished," Feyl said recently.
But the coyote "problem" has not vanished everywhere.
Prospect Park police Officer Ted Noah recalled the time, last year, when he was dispatched to assist Hawthorne police investigating a report of a woman screaming in a park.
As the officers met in Hofstra Park, a 25-acre park on the Prospect Park-Hawthorne border, Noah, an experienced hunter, heard barking. The "screams" were the howls of coyotes.
"I heard at least two. ... I knew it was a coyote," Noah said.
"One [coyote] ran right in front of me. They must have been stalking a deer. The deer ran out of the woods right after I saw the coyote."
In Allendale, the coyotes have driven the deer out of Celery Farm, a 107-acre wildlife preserve owned by the borough, said Stiles Thomas, the marsh warden for the preserve.
"The deer population sort of disappeared," Thomas said.
He once came home to find a coyote urinating in his driveway.
"We've heard and seen them in Allendale within the past week," Thomas said.
Lysa DeLaurentis, an animal control officer for several Morris and Passaic county towns, said she is investigating the disappearance of cats and small dogs in Ringwood.
"I have had a lot more calls this year in the Stonetown area [a Ringwood neighborhood] of people missing cats," DeLaurentis said. "A couple of months ago, people's dogs just seem to disappear off the face of the earth."
DeLaurentis agrees that development has been pushing coyotes from their natural habitat.
"People think we are getting overpopulated with them now," she said. "But really, I don't think that is the case. It's us taking away their homes."
Debbie DeLucca, animal control officer in Wayne, recently discovered a coyote family with seven new pups. She won't disclose the location.
"Wildlife are learning to live amongst us because we are building up," DeLucca said. "The less natural habitat you have, the higher chance of seeing them. We just have to live smart with our garbage, not putting food out. We need to understand that wildlife are all part of our system."
Coyotes first appeared in the state in the 1950s, migrating south from Canada and the Hudson Valley, said Jim Bremner, the publisher of DesertUSA, an Internet magazine that covers a wide variety of topics dealing with North America.
"They are very smart and have no predators," Bremner said.
Larger than its desert and mountain cousins, the Eastern coyote averages 40 pounds, is known for its bushy tail and long snout, can sprint at 40 mph, and feeds on rodents, insects, reptiles, small mammals and fruit.
The current coyote hunting season began Jan. 16 and will end Feb. 20.
* * * Like it or not, he lives here, too
Coyotes can be seen night or day, but it's unusual to run across them, because their acute senses of smell and hearing usually allow them to detect you long before you detect them.
If you encounter a coyote:
Stop. Don't run. Stand still, and let it go on its way.
Give it plenty of space.
Never stare an animal down. It considers that a threat.
If a coyote bites you, report the injury to a hospital, which will notify the state health department.
To avoid attracting coyotes:
Close garbage can lids tightly.
Do not leave pet food outside.
Do not allow small pets outside unaccompanied.
Sources: Dee Garbowski, Wildlife Freedom Inc., and DesertUSA.
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when it comes to mother nature, people are the problem.....
They lock down the schools and so on, yet in Wyoming when we have grizzly bears fenced out of school yards, enviros insist we do not have enough of them.
I see there are still weird things going on in Wanaque. At least now they are of-this-earth. :)
The liberal's answer to how to deal with predators: Passively let him have his way.
No thanks, Garbowski.
The proper way to deal with a coyote is to cause him to point all four legs up toward the sky and assume ambient temperature.
The reason God made coyotes is so that they could become dead coyotes!
Totally agree. Coyotes are a menace when you have livestock and yet the animal activists have kept us from doing anything about it. Now that they are in the city slickers back yard they are complaining about safety.
Nice to see it come around and 'bite them in the back'.
In almost every one of these stories, some "expert" on nature makes the remark that the reason the particular animal (deer, coyote, bear, etc.) is a problem is that we have pushed them out of their natural habitat.
It is all our fault.
Prior to 1950, there were zero coyotes on the East Coast.
This story states that in 1997 there were only 1,500 coyotes in NJ and now there are 3,000...but it is our fault that they rob garbage cans and eat cats?
We are not seeing more because we are driving them out of their natural habitat....we are seeing more because THERE ARE MORE!!!!
Why is it liberals are totally devoid of logic?
Eliminate the season and put a bounty on them like we used to have in Calif. and they will disapear.
Sounds like it is time to introduce them to Mister 12 Guage.
Your Border Collie and a tiny Yorkie could very well be their lunch.
A coyote can jump that fence like it is not there.
Kiss your Yorkie goodbye.
Unless you zap the coyotes.
I guess it's safe to say it here: A prime coyote from a cold climate is one of the most beautiful furs I've ever seen.
They're very good at avoiding adults but when push comes to shove a lone child or small woman is just another meal to a pack of coyotes.
What coyotes kill very often is family dogs.
A double-tap to center mass and one to the head should do the trick. JHPs are recommended.
I added NJ to the topics list.
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