State wildlife officials hope to cool some of the fears raised by the presence of coyotes in Middletown while employing night-vision technology to try to find the canine predators, the Asbury Park Press reports today.

State and local officials were meeting today to make plans for a public education program in the community, the state Department of Environmental Protection says in a new press release on its website.

From the release:

“To help ease the understandable public-safety concerns in Middletown, we will do more to educate residents about coyotes so we can replace fear with facts,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson said in a news release. “We’re also using more aggressive strategies to find the coyotes that have eluded traps for several weeks and remove these problem animals from Middletown neighborhoods.”

In addition to providing detailed information on coyotes and their behavior, wildlife biologists leading the public meeting, expected to be scheduled shortly, will discuss precautions residents can take to minimize interaction with the animals…

Officially determined in 1975 to be living in New Jersey, the Eastern coyote closely resembles a small German shepherd, but has a long snout and a bushy, black-tipped tail. Another key difference from a domestic dog is readily noticeable even from a distance: The coyote has a habit of holding its tail in a horizontal position or lower while standing, walking and running.

By nature, coyotes are wary of people and generally can be chased away with loud noises. However, coyotes often lose their fear of people when they become habituated to food sources such as garbage or pet food.

The DEP also has information about coyotes on its website.

The release refers to the animals, which have attacked two children since late April, as “a pack of nuisance coyotes.”

Middletown police have been authorized to shoot coyotes, the release says. One animal has been killed by police and another was shot at two days ago but escaped.

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