Coyote Spotted on Elm Ridge Road This Weekend

coyoteSeveral 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.


  1. 40 to 60 coyotes in Princeton? Is that a typo? There’s just no way that’s true. Did he mean 4 to 6? Even that seems absurd.

    1. He said 40 to 60. Not a typo. Said they live in packs, for example a large group on Rosedale Road. Hard to believe, we know. Guess that is why he wants a culling program.

    2. I’m with Bill here. Those numbers seem extraordinary, and Elm Ridge Road isn’t even Princeton. I’m sure that there are a few coyotes prowling through, but 40 – 60? That’s multiple packs! As for the idea that their numbers are increasing because of a lack of predators: you need wolves and mountain lions to predate coyotes. Those haven’t been present in any serious numbers probably for a hundred years. Seems like another Princeton panic caused by the occasional siting of a wild animal…or maybe some folks like the idea of going on a bit of a coyote-shoot!

      1. Do Google search of coyote and New Jersey and it appears that coyote sightings are on the rise in a number of towns.

        1. That doesn’t really surprise me. There’s enough forests to support a ridiculous number of deer and a hungry coyote’s going to do what he does and try to eat them! I’m just skeptical that we need to be sending folks out to shoot them. Are they causing a nuisance? If they take a few deer out, surely they’re doing us a favor?

  2. I saw one on Federal City Road a month ago, at about 4:30pm. It was trotting down the road towards Pennington, then turned and jumped up into the bank bordering Rosedale Park. Unmistakably a coyote.

  3. I’m right at Princeton Pike and Province Line Road. They seem to come and go. They are rarely seen, so the sightings reported are a bit unusual. But they are heard, and I have some great digital recordings of coyotes howling in the back of my home.

    1. But we’re talking about coyotes in Princeton. That intersection (and the surrounding area) is technically not Princeton.

      1. Yes, correct Elm Ridge in Hopewell, but not too far away. We combined with info. about the meeting in Princeton Thursday (as opposed to writing two separate stories about coyotes.)

      2. You have made an amazingly informed point, Stephen. While I am one fifth of a mile from the town line, it’s true, I have seen coyotes stop at the border and turn back. You are encountering different coyotes, no doubt.

  4. Geez… a coyote hunt is way, way, way over-reacting. City people move in and they start to panic.

    Although I grew up in Princeton when we had pheasants in our fields, and rode horseback down 206, I’ve recently had the THRILL of hearing, observing, and photographing coyotes in Lawrence and Hopewell Twps. I watched one for a full hour in the snow and it never once approached me all alone or bothered anyone else. Unfortunately the recent increase in human activity seems to have scared them off.

    I’ve still hike, bird, and “wild-flower” Herrontown Woods year-round by day and in the dark. I’ve hiked into Autumn Hill at night to check the vernal pools, hiked Woodfield Reservation, The Institute Woods, Witherspoon Woods, and Mountain Lakes Preserve and still have never, ever seen a coyote, although I wish I had. I often have my small 22 lb dog accompany me and have never felt afraid, but remain alert after dark.

    Princeton has had a leash law since the 1960s so your dog should be on a leash and if it’s not, you should use common sense after dark.

    Your hunting cats should NOT be loose outside, in the US alone, cats kill 1.4-3.7 billion birds and approximately 12 billion small mammals, including rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks. Princeton would do better pursuing an outdoor cat restraint law.

    Coyotes rarely hunt in packs and would much prefer to go undetected and avoid people and their dogs. It should stay that way, so don’t leave food or garbage out or put your kitty out night. Coyotes are a great way to keep overabundant populations in check such as Canada Geese and occasionally deer. Deer have done so much damage to vegetation. Last week I saw red deer hair in coyote scat.

    It’s really ironic that the town hires White Buffalo to hun the deer, then hires them to hunt the predators. The coyotes moved in because the extirpation of wolves left a vacuum.

    This is a much-maligned canine.


    1. A taxpayer-funded coyote hunt was recommended by the animal control board last night! I’m not in favor. The Council still has to give final approval at their next meeting (the same one when they will announce what is happening to the parking agents) but I don’t see them over-ruling the animal control board.

  5. While I’m not advocating “culling” coyotes just yet, it seems that any decision about this non-native species should be completely separate from any decisions about the native fox population. Foxes seem pretty harmless and they were here before we were.

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