METUCHEN —Pet owners in a Central Jersey borough are being warned to be sure they know where their furry friends are after the death of two deer fawns.

Their deaths this week near Meutchen High School are being blamed by Metuchen's Office of Emergency Management on at least one coyote.

"Coyotes can be aggressive and generally avoid contact with people but, under some circumstances, are dangerous for animals," the borough said in statement.

According to the the state Department of Environmental Protection, coyotes are not native to the state and were likely brought here by someone before 1950. They are adaptable and have been been able to survive in New Jersey's cold weather.

Eastern coyotes are larger than those found in the west and have various color phases, including blond, red and black. Past interbreeding between wolves and coyotes may be responsible for the larger size and colors.

Coyotes feed on rabbits, mice, birds and other small animals, as well as young and weakened deer. They also consume rotting flesh.

The DEP's guideline to reduce the likelihood of conflicts with coyotes include:

  • Never feed a coyote. Deliberately feeding coyotes puts pets and other residents in the neighborhood at risk.
  • Feeding pet cats and/or feral cats outdoors can attract coyotes. The coyotes feed on the pet food and also prey upon the cats.
  • Put garbage in tightly closed containers that cannot be tipped over.
  • Remove sources of water.
  • Bring pets in at night.
  • Put away bird feeders at night to avoid attracting rodents and other coyote prey.
  • Provide secure enclosures for rabbits, poultry, and other farm animals.
  • Pick up fallen fruit and cover compost piles.
  • Although extremely rare, coyotes have been known to attack humans. Parents should monitor their children, even in familiar surroundings, such as backyards.
    Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
  • Clear brush and dense weeds from around dwellings - this reduces protective cover for coyotes and makes the area less attractive to rodents and rabbits. Coyotes, as well as other predators, are attracted to areas where rodents are concentrated like woodpiles.
  • If coyotes are present, make sure they know they're not welcome. Make loud noises, blast a canned air siren, throw rocks, or spray them with a garden hose.