Several area residents report seeing a coyote on Elm Ridge Road in Hopewell this weekend. Coyotes have also been spotted in Princeton recently.
Princeton Animal Control Officer Mark Johnson was not surprised about the coyote sighting and confirmed that coyotes recently have been spotted in several areas in Princeton. He estimates that about 40 to 60 coyotes are in Princeton.
“Each year four or five are hit by cars,” Johnson said. “The population has been increasing because there are no predators picking them off.”
The Division of Fish and Wildlife estimates between 5,000 and 10,000 coyotes in New Jersey. The coyote, a species of wild dog, is not native to the East Coast. Biologists say that as European settlers killed off native timber wolves, coyotes steadily moved east into wolves’ territory.
This Thursday at 8:30 a.m., the local animal control committee will discuss whether to expand the local deer culling program to include coyotes and foxes. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in Room A at the Witherspoon Hall Municipal Building at 400 Witherspoon Street. For more than a decade Princeton Township hired bow hunters and sharp shooters to thin the deer population, and the government of the new Princeton approved continuing the program last year.
About a month ago a resident reported that a mountain lion was spotted in town.
“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you see something new,” Johnson said.