A New Jersey police officer was forced to kill a coyote Thursday in a city park after it attacked a mom and her 4-year-old son as the boy sat in a baby stroller, according to Fairfield police.
The coyote was shot as it “began to aggressively approach the officer,” police said in a news release.
Investigators say the incident played out around around 7 p.m. at the Fairfield Recreation Complex on Hollywood Avenue. Fairfield is about 30 miles northwest of New York City.
“The initial investigation revealed that a 37-year-old female from Fairfield was walking in the park, pushing her 4 year old son in a stroller. ... As she was walking, another individual who was also walking alerted her to the fact that there was a coyote walking directly behind her,” police said.
“When the female turned around to see for herself, the coyote lunged at her. The victim fell to the ground and the stroller tipped over. The coyote allegedly bit the adult female on the back of her leg. The coyote then attempted to go after the child, biting him on his right leg.”
The animal lunged again at the mom as she struggled to right the stroller, but quickly fled as other people ran to help the woman, investigators said. Both mother and child were hospitalized and their condition was not released Friday.
Fairfield police said they closed off the area and began a search for the animal. At 8:36 p.m., Sgt. Frank Tracey spotted it in a yard on a nearby road, officials said.
“He exited his police vehicle with his M4 patrol rifle and made his way into the backyard,” police said. “A few moments later, a coyote emerged from behind a pool and began to aggressively approach the officer. In order to protect himself, the officer fired several shots, striking the coyote and killing it.”
The carcass will be tested for rabies, officials said.
Police say they are now worried more than one coyote may be a danger to people and pets living in the area.
Investigators have learned a coyote attacked a family’s dog in the area on Wednesday, but it was described “as being much larger” than the one killed Thursday, a release said.
The Fairfield Police Department is still cautioning all residents in the area of Big Piece Road and all those who use the recreation complex that they still need to exercise great caution when walking around their yards or in the park” Chief Anthony G. Manna said in a statement.
“The police department intends to deploy officers with rifles in the park and at several scheduled events taking place at the community pool and a nearby school to assure the safety of the public as best as we can,” Manna said.
Multiple coyote attacks on humans were reported in North Carolina in 2018, including two in Davie County involving children. In March, a 9-year-old girl was attacked on her porch, and in May, a father and daughter were attacked and bitten as the girl played on a backyard swing, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Another North Carolina incident was reported in April 2018, when a man in the Town of Wake Forest was attacked by a coyote while taking out his trash, according to The News and Observer. That coyote later tested positive for rabies, the newspaper said.