OCEAN, N.J., (CBS) – New Jersey health officials are advising residents of coyote sightings in Monmouth County.

The Monmouth County Regional Health Commission says the sightings have occurred in the central coastal areas of the county.  The sightings have not been localized within any specific neighborhood.

The commission says coyotes are naturally wary of humans, but their behavior changes if given access to human food and garbage. Officials advise they will lose their natural fear of humans, which may threaten human safety, endanger domestic pets, and cause property damage.

(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

According to the commission, the coyote closely resembles a small German Shepherd, but has a long snout and a bushy, black-tipped tail. The coyote also has a habit of holding its tail below a horizontal position while standing, walking and running.

 The commission issued the following precautions:

  • Never feed a coyote. This puts pets and other residents in the neighborhood at risk.
  •  Do not feed pet cats and/or feral cats outside. This can attract coyotes, which will eat the cat food AND prey upon the cats.
  •  Put away bird feeders at night, and remove seed which has fallen to the ground without delay.
  •  Do not place or throw food on the ground in an attempt to feed birds.
  •  Pick up fallen fruit and cover compost piles; Keep garbage in tightly closed containers.
  •  Do not leave pets outside unattended, especially at night. Walk your dog on a leash.
  •  Clear brush and dense weeds from around dwellings. This will reduce protective cover for coyotes and make the area less attractive to rodents and rabbits (natural coyote prey).
  •  Install motion-sensitive lighting around the exterior property.
  •  If coyotes are present, make sure they know they’re not welcome. Make loud noises, blast a canned air siren/horn, throw rocks, spray them with a garden hose.
  •  When going outside to walk or jog, make sure you have something on your person that can be used to scare a coyote away, should one be encountered…i.e. air horn, whistle, etc.
  •  If a coyote is observed in the daytime that shows no fear of humans, is exhibiting aggressive or rabid-like behavior, or if a coyote attacks a person, contact the police department immediately.

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