By DON STINE
Coyotes have been spotted in Ocean Township by some residents who have expressed concern, but county health officials advise the public to use good old common sense when dealing with the animals.
“Coyotes have been sighted in all 21 counties and in 400 municipalities throughout the state- this is not something that is uncommon,” said Dave Henry, a health officer with the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission,
Ocean Township resident Barbara Hudson, who lives in the Wayside area, said she has seen a coyote come into her yard .
“I was outside and saw a small animal come up my driveway and, at first, I thought it was a cat- but then I realized it wasn’t. Then, about one week later, the same animal, which was then a little larger, came up my driveway and I realized it was a coyote,” she said.
“I am certainly very uncomfortable. I don’t want a coyote in my yard,” Hudson said at last week’s Township Council meeting.
Hudson said she would like to know how many coyotes there are in Ocean Township, if they represent a threat to people or small animals, and if the township is also concerned about the matter.
“This is the first time I have ever seen them in Wayside and I know they can go after small dogs and animals,” she said.
Councilman William Garofalo said he also saw a coyote about a year ago crossing Monmouth Road by the Deal Country Club golf course late at night. He said that other residents have also reported seeing coyotes.
“It was the first time I had even seen one here. I thought it was just a big shaggy dog but it was a coyote. I was shocked to see a coyote in Ocean Township,” he said.
But Henry says that people need to relax and use common sense dealing with an animal that lives throughout the state.
“The whole state has sightings, here or there, so this doesn’t surprise me. And people just need to take proper precautions so there is no negative interaction between people and the animals,” he said.
Henry said residents should not feed feral cats, which only draws coyotes; that small pets should be monitored and brought in at night; and that bird feeders should also be monitored.
“And people should monitor their children, even in familiar settings like backyards. Just be as cautious as possible but this is all a primary part in the natural order of things. Take preventive steps to avoid any negative interaction. People just need to use common sense,” he said.
Henry said coyotes are primarily nocturnal but can be observed during daylight hours as well.
“But if a coyote is seen during daylight hours and shows no fear of humans, then you should call the police or local animal control agents,” he said.
And Henry said this is not a problem that is going to go away.
“If you look at a range map for coyotes in New Jersey, we have cases reported since the 1950s in various parts of the state. They are native to New Jersey,” he said.
Ocean Township Administrator Andrew Brannen said that reports of coyote sightings do occasionally come in and that the information is passed on to the regional health commission.
“They do not appear to be a threat to humans but we do worry about small animals, especially pets,” he said.
Brannen said coyote sightings are posted on the township’s website (www.OceanTwp.org) to give residents some warning.
“Any time we get a call about a coyote sighting we absolutely want to get that information out to residents in that area,” he said.