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Saddle River, NJ authorizes police to use lethal force to curb coyote problem

SADDLE RIVER, N.J. — A Saddle River resident recently recorded video of as many as 11 coyotes — including a mother, father and their cubs —  in his backyard.

A dog walker in town also recently reported in a separate incident that she was surrounded by a pack and nearly attacked.

"My biggest fear is for children," said Dr. Dean Cerf, a veterinarian and resident. He recorded the 11 coyotes in his backyard on more than one occasion. As many as three packs like it have been spotted around Saddle River.

"If a child were to scream," he said, "my concern is that it would be interpreted as an injured animal."

The Mayor mailed a letter to residents this week entitled: “We have a coyote problem in Saddle River.”

"We will no longer tolerate this threat to our families and to our safety," stated Mayor Al Kurpis, "these animals have become much more aggressive and now pose a real threat to humans never seen before in our community."

The Saddle River Mayor and Council approved a resolution on September 18 allowing the police to use lethal force in response to any aggressive coyote encounters.

"We need to do what we have to do," said Carol Tyler, Saddle River animal control. "But it’s not an open shoot policy."

She said each situation will be assessed separately.

The Mayor has convened an Emergency Coyote Management Task Force. Tomorrow morning, that group, law enforcement officials and state representatives from the Division of Fish and Wildlife will meet. They are expected to form a long term plan to reduce the coyote population. The Mayor is planning to hold a press conference tomorrow afternoon.

Residents are being urged to never leave small children or pets outside alone; do not leave out any food; and if you see a coyote, do not run. Back off slowly and make loud noises.