MANCHESTER — Was it a dog or coyote that attacked a man as he walked his dog?

Manchester Police said the 53-year-old man was walking his German shepard on Johnson Avenue last Wednesday when what the man described as "an aggressive animal" came at him. The man, whose identity was not disclosed by police, was treated at Ocean Medical Center in Brick for several bites, cuts and lacerations to both arms.

"The victim reported that he was surprised by the presence of the animal and was attacked without any provocation," Manchester Police said.

Police interviewed neighbors about the incident, who said they did not know of an aggressive dog in the area but heard coyote calls in the distance.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said eastern coyotes are larger than those found in the west and also have various color phases, including blonde, red and black. Past interbreeding between wolves and coyotes may be responsible for the larger size and color variations. Coyotes feed on rabbits, mice, birds and other small animals, as well as young and weakened deer. They also consume carrion (decaying tissue). They are tolerant of human activities and rapidly adapt to changes in their environment, according to the DEP.

Tap Into Scotch Plains/Fanwood reported Scotch Plains Police have also warned residents about coyotes but did not mention a specific incident.

Manchester Police have issued a warning, telling residents what to do if they encounter coyotes. They've issued some guidelines in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection:

  • Coyotes are now raising their pups and can be more territorial as they guard their mates, dens, pups and food sources.
  • Coyotes can be found in any open space, parks, neighborhoods and even commercial areas. As people and their pets spend more time outdoors, the possibility of a coyote encounter increases.
  • Coyotes may try to escort you out of an area to protect their pups or food sources when you encounter them on a trail. Humans may perceive this behavior as stalking, which is usually not the case.
  • They may also view your pet as prey. Keep unattended cats and dogs indoors or in completely enclosed runs, especially at night, and do not assume that a fence will keep a coyote out of your back yard.
  • Never feed coyotes — it is illegal to feed coyotes in most places. Feeding endangers your family and neighbors as it lures coyotes into neighborhoods.
  • Accompany your leashed pet outside. Make sure you turn on lights if it is dark to check your back yard for unexpected wildlife.
  • Keep dogs on short leashes while walking outside; the Division of Wildlife recommends a leash no longer than 6 feet.
  • Have noisemakers on hand to scare away coyotes that may enter your yard, such as whistles and horns. Yell, clap hands, blow a whistle and try to make yourself look larger if you have a close encounter with a coyote.
  • Don't run away or turn your back on a coyote.
  • Do not allow a coyote to get in between you and your pet or child—keep children close to you.
  • Note where and when you have an encounter with a coyote. Coyotes often follow routines. Avoid this area in the future if the encounter was negative.

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