Coyotes are not unique to our area; they have successfully established themselves throughout the Unites States, including suburbia and even Central Park NYC. A search on 'coyotes' will bring up web pages on Living With Coyotes in Massachusetts, Montgomery, AL, Southwest Desert USA and more.
[From New Jersey's Great Northwest Skylands, read Coyotes in New Jersey: The Life of Wiley.]
"Coyotes are the size of a medium-size dog, but with longer, thicker fur. Coyotes have a long, bushy, black-tipped tail that is usually carried pointing down. A coyote is typically 4-5 feet in length, from snout to tip of tail. Their snout is long and slender, and their ears are pointed and erect. The pelts of coyotes in Massachusetts range from grayish-black to blondes, light tan, dark tan, red or even all black. Females weigh an average of 33-40 lbs and males are slightly larger (average 34-47 lbs)."
"They can be active night or day, and sightings at dawn or dusk are common. They remain active all year-round and do not hibernate. Once a coyote has established itself into an area, it will actively maintain a territory that may vary in size from 2 to 30 square miles. One family of coyotes often encompasses one or more residential suburban areas or towns. Coyotes are highly territorial..."
They will eat carrion, but prefer fresh meat. They are valuable in controlling rats, squirrels, and woodchucks. In addition to small animals, they eat fruit and vegetables, pet food and GARBAGE!
[By the way, now I know what role T. Llama plays with the sheep at Four Corners: he guards them against coyotes... although probably not against bears.]
Interestingly, many of the recommendations for protecting oneself from coyotes are the same as for bears. Here is what NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife suggests on how to deal with coyotes:
Finally, if you observe coyotes in the daytime that show no fear of humans or if a coyote attacks a person, immediately contact your local police and the Division of Fish and Wildlife at 908-735-8793; outside of normal business hours call the DEP Hotline at 877-WARN-DEP.
The Smoke Rise Newsletter recently issued the following guidelines:
Be aware of where your children are when outside. Never leave them unattended.
Do not let your dog outside day or evening without supervision or on a leash. Small dogs are particularly vulnerable to predators, but a predator can attack a larger dog just as easily if circumstances allow. Invisible fencing does not stop an animal from coming onto your property.
Cats are very vulnerable to predators. Many cats have been reported missing in Smoke Rise alone this summer and coyotes are assumed to have been the reason. PLEASE do not let your cat outside. In addition to the chance of being bitten by any number of wild animals, your cat may expose your household to disease.
If you see a coyote, call the Kinnelon Police [and Smoke Rise Security if you live in Smoke Rise] stating date and time of day.
Here are links to a few other coyote resources:
Coyote FAQs from DesertUSA
Wikipedia entry on Coyotes
From the New York Times, Mysteries That Howl and Hunt
If you know of other resources or recommendations for dealing with coyotes, please let me know or add them in the comments section.
Coyote Image courtesy of Coyotes in Montgomery.