502 Millbrook Avenue, Randolph, NJ 07869-3799
Tel: 973.989.7100Fax: 973.989.7076

Coyote/Bear Awareness

Posted: June 4, 2021

Once again, there has been an increase in bear and coyote sightings in the township. It is important to take precautions to protect yourself and your pets.

Since bears are attracted by garbage odors, properly securing your garbage is one of the best ways to prevent bears from becoming a nuisance in your neighborhood. For tips on proper garbage management, and what to do if you encounter a bear, visit the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife website. Remember, never feed bears! It’s illegal in New Jersey and it’s dangerous. Report black bear damage or nuisance behavior to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 1-877-927-6337.

The Randolph Township Police Department will respond to all bear sighting reports. The police department’s response is limited to observing the bear and notifying residents in the area that a bear has been sighted. The police will not take any other action, unless the bear is aggressive and poses a threat to public safety.

Coyotes generally avoid humans, even when their home range encompasses largely urban or suburban habitat. However, the presence of a free buffet in the form of pet food, compost, or trash can lure coyotes into yards and create the impression that these places are bountiful feeding areas. Without the lure of food or other attractants, their visits will be brief and rare but a coyote who finds food in one yard may learn to search for food in others.

Deliberately feeding coyotes is a mistake. You may enjoy hand-feeding animals, but this is a surefire way to get them accustomed to people, and it will ultimately lead to their demise. Here are some general rules:

  • Avoid feeding pets outside. If you must, feed them only once per day and remove the food bowl as soon as your pet has finished its meal.
  • If you use compost, use enclosed bins and never compost meat or fish scraps.
  • Clean up spilled bird seed around feeders.
  • Remove fallen fruit from the ground.
  • Keep trash in high-quality containers with tight-fitting lids and place the cans curbside the morning of collection (instead of the night before).
  • If coyotes are present, make sure they know they are not welcome. Make loud noises, blast a canned air siren, throw rocks, or spray them with a garden hose.

Free-roaming pets, especially cats, may attract coyotes into neighborhoods. The best way to minimize risk to pets is never to leave them outside unattended. For cats, this means either keeping them indoors at all times or letting them outside only under your supervision wearing a harness and leash or in a secure enclosure (such as a catio).

Dogs, especially small dogs, are also vulnerable to coyote confrontations. These incidents generally involve those who are either accustomed to people (usually due to wildlife feeding), or coyotes who are protecting their territory, their mate, or their pups. Always walk dogs on a leash and attend to them when they’re outside unless you have a coyote-proof fence, which is either at least eight feet tall and made of material that coyotes cannot climb or at least six feet tall with a protective device on top.

For more information and tips about coyotes, visit the Humane Society’s website.