As if you didn’t have enough to worry about, there are coyotes living in the great Garden State.

“The number of coyote in the state has been increasing over the years. You know, they’re pretty much found everywhere,” said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

He said coyotes have been reported in suburban and even urban areas, and while they tend to be very reclusive, “as with any wild animal, you should always exercise a certain degree of caution.”

Hajna pointed out coyote attacks are very rare in Jersey, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to stay alert.

“You should always keep an eye on your children and your pets. They can go after small pets. To them the small pet looks like prey," he said.

He said this is especially so if there are any wooded areas around home where coyotes could be lurking.

So what should you do if one of these animals shows up?

“If a coyote is present, make it known that the animal is not welcome. Make a lot of noise,” said Hajna.

If a coyote appears aggressive, try throwing a rock or other object — "or if you’re near the safety of your house or a vehicle, just go inside until the coyote disappears," Hajna said.

He said if you see a coyote and it’s showing a lack of fear, it could indicate the animal has either become too accustomed to people, or in rare instances it could have a disease such as rabies.

He pointed out the type of coyote living in New Jersey is actually an Eastern coyote — some believe it’s a kind of hybrid, a cross between the smaller Western coyote and a wolf. Some can be grey or red, and can be mistaken for dogs.

Hajna said as with other wildlife, coyotes may be attracted to your house if you leave garbage cans uncovered.

“They’re very opportunistic and very adaptable, so you should always use good housekeeping practices around your yard," he said.

He also pointed out if you have bird feeders and seeds get spilled, it could attract mice and other rodents  and that may in turn attract coyotes to your house.

“It’s a good idea to have motion detector lights in your yard, so they can trigger the light and they’ll usually just run off," he said.

Fish and Wildlife officials don’t have any estimate of how many coyotes may now call Jersey home, but it could be in the thousands.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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