When I moved to Raritan Township (I always call it Flemington on air since that’s our mailing address), I did it because we had a fourth child on the way and five-bedroom houses elsewhere were just too expensive. Plus the neighborhood was beautiful and the commute to work was reasonable. It checked all the boxes.

I didn’t move there for the wildlife.

Yes, I knew there would be some. Our property backs right up to some woods.

The previous owners told me how I would see deer. Being a Hunterdon County rookie, I didn’t know that meant I would see 20 or 30 deer at a time up and down our whole street.

And I even thought there could be an outside chance of seeing a bear. After all, a caller once told me he saw one standing right on 202 in front of Northlandz. I still haven’t seen one, though.

But what I never thought about was coyotes.

Most of us don’t think about them but New Jersey is lousy with them. According to a Rutgers report, 96% of New Jersey land has coyotes. They are just so elusive that we tend to never know they are there. They’re probably watching us when we don’t even realize it.

All this to say during the show yesterday I received a text from my next-door neighbor. He let me know that he saw three coyotes right at the woodline in his backyard. Now he’s a solid, sensible guy and he wasn’t afraid of them but he knows we have two small boys, not to mention an even smaller dog that would make a nice appetizer for a coyote.

Grand Junction
Grand Junction

We’ve definitely heard them before so I knew they were out there somewhere. Heard their distinctive yipping and howling in the woods. And my dog Finn had every hair on his body stand up one night in the tree-lined darkness of our yard when he must have known they were lurking.

Once, I even could swear I saw the glowing eyes deep in the woods of what I think was a coyote but I don’t know for sure.

But now I know they were that close to our houses.

In one way it’s kind of cool to know I might see coyotes out in the open like that. Obviously, you don’t want them losing their fear of humans and coming around to dig in trash and then go after your dog.

Of course, I texted my neighbor back saying perhaps he should paint a tunnel on the side of his house and see if they will knock themselves unconscious. Luckily he’s old enough to get a solid Wile E. Coyote joke.

I’ll leave you with some coyote fun facts:

The first coyote sighting to be documented was in 1939 in Hunterdon County. So why should I be surprised they’re at my back door, right?

Coyotes have been reported in 453 New Jersey towns.

Coyotes will eat anything from frogs and voles to raccoons, beavers, and young deer. Or, you know, your small dog. Oh and if meat isn’t available they are crafty enough to eat fruit, nuts and eggs.

They mate in February and March. Is this why my neighbor saw some active ones?

Adult male coyotes can be up to 4 and a half feet long, stand 2 feet tall at the shoulders and weigh 45 pounds.

They can run at 40 mph. You will never, ever outrun a coyote.

If you see a canine shape running and can’t tell if it’s a coyote or a dog, look at the tail. Dogs run with their tails up. Coyotes run with their tails down.

Wile E. Coyote building contraptions to catch Road Runner isn’t far off from coyote intelligence. Coyotes have been known to lure picnickers away from lunches, create diversions, and lure prey into killing distance with creative hunting.

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