First Coyote Account
Second Coyote Account
Third Coyote Account
Coyote Pack Account
Coyote Busch Campus Account
Coyote Busch Campus Confirmation Account
Coyote Prints Account

Coyotes Running Amuck - March 2006 Update

By Jessica Teal


Coyote tracks have been located on both Busch and Livingston campuses - further evidence of the vast population at Rutgers.

More coyote evidence for the skeptics and believers alike who may encounter these four-footed shadows on the woodsy edges of campus- pawprints! Scurrying down the snow-covered banks of Busch Campus, nearly underneath the Rt. 18 divide, the ever-intrepid RR Team captured some images of coyote tracks in the snow, some of which suggest that the pack’s territory encroaches on both Livingston and Busch campus. At this time, due to the proximity of tracks, which follow on either side of the Rt. 18 division between Busch and Livingston, the Team is speculating that the coyotes are using the large storm drain pipes that run under the highway as their means of crossing campuses or possibly as a shelter/winter den. These prints are standard “runs”- meaning that the tracks demonstrate typical coyote hunting/ranging behavior within their territory. The tracks skirt the edge of Avenue E on Livingston where the RR Team was fortunate enough to catch the pack in action one late evening in the fall. Clearly, the coyotes have a hunting range that includes Busch Campus as the Busch prints show some skirmishing and possible chasing of deer in the snow. The Livingston prints seem more like the ranging trot marks of a few pairs, albeit, the paw size on a few of the tracks makes you wonder just how fat these critters are getting on Rutgers deer. The Team is currently pondering our next line of action to gain some solid pictorial evidence of these shy predators. After much critical debate and discussion over possible lures such as raw meat and coyote urine (complete with coyote pheromes- yum!), it looks as though a “coyote caller”, a dog whistle of sorts that imitates the call of a kit in distress, may be our safest and least invasive tactic. Check back soon to see if this latest idea may be the key to ultimate coyote photo success or if the Team will ultimately draw straws over who gets to be the “bait”, coated with female coyote musk, besmeared with pork chops and tied to a tree on Livingston!


Snowy banks of the stream just below Route 18. The RR Team believes this is an outlet or den for coyotes which have been sited on Busch Campus by two separate sources.

The entrance/exit to a possible coyote den on Busch.

Multiple coyote tracks discovered in the woods of Busch Campus near the possible entrance.

Comparison and contrast of deer tracks located at the site (left) and paw prints from what is believed to be a coyote (right). Two separate sightings were made in the area between this location and the football stadium on Busch.

In a clearing between the trees along the jogger's path on Livingston multiple sets of coyote tracks are found. They seem to cross through the woods in specific patterns

Closer view of some sets of coyote prints, most likely surveying their territory in a set pattern.

Distinct coyote prints from a closeup view. This set is closest to the jogger's path and leads into the woods.


Migration Confirmation - January 2006 Update

By Chaz via e-mail

I'm sending this email to share an encounter with you with the Coyotes/Wolfs. Unlike everyone else who started their Winter Break a few days early I had to stay until the last day to work on Busch Campus. It was about 6pm on the last day to move out of the suites for winter break (deadline was 7pm, I cut it close) my roommate and myself were leaving about the same time. Unlike my roommate I had to catch the train home to Hoboken, NJ. So I left the suites about 6pm and headed over to the student center to catch a bus to College Ave., luckily I didn't have any bags with me because my girlfriend left the night before and got a ride from her older brother so I gave her most of my stuff to take home for me so I wouldn't have to be dragging everything on the bus then on the train, etc. Once at the student center I waited a few minutes and an "H" came, so I hopped on the "H" and thought I would have an ordinary ride to College Ave. As the bus driver was taking the newly built on ramp to Route 18 South, she slowed and almost came to a stop as if waiting for a deer to clear the road. I lifted myself off my seat in which I was sitting and looked out of the left side windows on the bus to see. To my suprise I saw a dog like animal swiftly crossing the newly built streets on Busch, the ones that lead right to the Silvers Apt Complex. I immediately knew the animal I had seen was not a dog because it did not walk like a dog and had a very long tail that was curled slighly upright. Upon seeing this I tried to get a closer look as the bus started to speed up again and since the animal was moving right under a street light. All I was able to see was the greyish fur coat of this animal. I had read the Rutgers Rarites website before and knew people had seen coyotes on Livingston Campus, but I would have never thought they would have come on Busch(which is quite scary)! When I finally got home I couldn't wait to tell my girlfriend(who lives in Silvers) because a few nights before this she was working very late and got off at midnight from her job also on Busch. I went to pick her up from work and walk with her to my suite. As we were walking to my dorm on that very clear night she asked if I had heard a dog howl that was carried by the wind. I had told her yes but it probably was not a dog, I told her it was probably the NJ Tansit trains that cross the river. I told her it was probably the sound of the horn that the wind carried. She had heard it again and was CONVINCED that what she heard was not a horn or whistle. After seeing the coyote for myself, with my own eyes I now belive her and do believe that the sound she heard was a coyote.


Migration of the Coyotes - December 2005 Update

By Ray Brennan

Last Friday, 12/23/05, I was driving back to Busch Campus when I noticed an animal across the street, running in the opposite direction. When I first saw it in my peripheral vision, it appeared to be a large raccoon or another common animal, but when I took a good look, there was no doubt what I was looking at. Just like it happened several years ago and started the whole revolution that the world calls Rutgers Rarities and Unexplained Phenomena, I found myself in close proximity to what I will call a coyote but still believe may have been a wolf. I made a quick left and pulled onto the shoulder of the road leading to the Cornelius Lowe House parking lot. The animal had paused under a street light no more than 15 feet away from my car and was peering down into the small wooded area further down the hill. As I fumbled to grab my camera to take advantage of the perfect photo opportunity, I never took my eyes off of the beast. Unfortunately, by the time I got it out and rolled down the window, the coyote/wolf started moving closer to the woods. I zoomed in and snapped a shot, hoping that it was good enough but knowing that I had missed my window. My girlfriend noticed further down in the wooded area that there was a deer. The coyote/wolf had paused in that spot because it had located a potential meal. The coyote did not appear to be very large, that is, compared to some of the pack that Jessica and I had spotted over a month ago. There were some massive creatures in the pack and this definitely was not one of them. It appeared to be a young coyote/wolf judging from its size, and its approach toward the deer gave away its inexperience, as the pace seemed to be rather slow. When the deer noticed it was a target, it did not hesitate to run for its life, but the coyote/wolf seemed to be taking a more careful approach. Both animals disappeared into the patch of woods and were not seen again.

This reveals a few things. Since the initial Rutgers Rarities report of my first sighting, this is the fourth overall sighting by the RR Team. The first was an individual sighting on Livingston that I made while driving on Avenue E. The second was made by Jessica near the Office of Television and Radio, her first. The third was the infamous pack sighting of 8-10 of different sizes along Avenue E. That was witnessed by both members of the RR Team. This latest one makes four. The other interesting side note is that this is the first sighting on Busch Campus, which is not as heavily wooded as Livingston. The direction from which the coyote/wolf was coming from was the football stadium, which is a highly visible area. This could mean that the coyotes/wolves are spreading out due to the reduction of space on Livingston. Either way, this sighting was very unique.


Leader of the Pack - October 2005 Update

By Jessica Teal

At last, some critical validation of our labors to present to all, believers and skeptics alike, the ultimate coyote account – we saw the roving coyote pack!

Yup, that’s right, there’s not one or two scattered coyotes on Livingston Campus, there’s more like ten or twelve in the huge pack we encountered at jogger-hotspot, Avenue E, about 50 yards from the Metlars Lane, Davidson Road intersection. It was while driving back towards Busch Campus around 11:00 PM that Ray and I recently encountered a fleet of our furry friends playing in the fields O’ Scarlet on the right hand side of the road. I actually saw the coyotes first and nearly caused badly-distracted Ray to crash when I shrilled “There they are! pull over! It’s them!”. Ray, a man of lightning-quick reflexes and poor traffic law knowledge immediately hung an illegal U-turn in order to get back to what I had seen, while I fumbled uselessly with the recording equipment. Alas, most of the pack had fled by the time we got the camcorder going, but we did get some shots of the urbanized beasties – mostly of their glowing eyes which regarded us with a seeming disdain before trotting off to join the rest in the woods.

In retrospect, I am astonished by what I saw because the coyotes were such an assorted, mixed group – there were little ones, medium–sized ones and a few really big ones that looked more like your classic wolf heading the pack. Under the streetlights, some of them looked more grey and some more brown though one thing is certain; they all had the big, long, dragging tails and the low trotting-creeping gait that is characteristic of coyotes, wolves and foxes. It was the size of the ring leaders (two) that actually frightened me because they looked much bigger than the sad specimens you can see in the nearby Johnson’s park zoo.

So again, there is confirmation of a pack of coyotes on Livingston that don’t seem too fazed by the college traffic and nearby intersection of Avenue E and Metlars Lane. Joggers beware!


Supplement by Ray Brennan

As Jessica mentioned in her account, she was the first to see the pack of coyotes in all their glory. Luckily, we turned around quick enough to see them before they all left their spot at the edge of the woods. There was one on the left that stared back at us, and we could see this one clearly. There was an even larger one on the right who stayed the longest to stare us down while the others slowly made their way back into the woods. This one was the largest and probably the leader of the pack. I did all I could with what little footage we captured, both with the digital camera and the camcorder. With the still digital images, the glowing green eyes can be seen clearly. As the flash from the camera went off, enough light was generated for the camcorder to pick up better images. The still was enhanced to show at least three coyotes in the shot, the middle one which is standing so that its entire body length can be seen, and the other two facing us. In another enhanced shot, the area where the coyotes remained was singled out, showing the possibility of a few others in the shot. The glowing eyes from the reflection of the flash helped to identify their positions. Some footage was captured of one of the coyotes running back into the woods, and the clip is shown below. Watch for movement toward the right hand side of the image and the lighter color of the tail as it runs into the woods. It is difficult to pick up, but you can see it if you look hard enough.


Glowing eyes of two coyotes from the digital camera picture. The raw image is shown on the left and the enhanced images of the coyotes are singled out in the image on the right.

Another image of the glowing coyote eyes from the digital camera. Again, the raw image is shown on the left and the enhanced images of the coyotes are singled out in the image on the right.

Still camcorder fram during digital camera flash. There is one coyote to the left of the closest tree and two to the right. The raw image is on the left and the enhanced on the right.

The three coyotes in the camcorder still are singled out and enhanced on the image to the left. The coyote in the middle is standing so that its entire body length is visible, from tail on the left to head on the right. The tail is illuminated a little. The fully enhanced strip in the image on the right possibly shows a few more glowing eyes near the closest tree.

Footage of coyote running. Look to the right side of the clip and observe the movement. Unfortunately, it is not as clear in the animation as it is in the actual camcorder footage.


Coyote Hungry - October 2005 Update

By Jessica Teal

The Rutgers Rarities Team has been hearing plenty of reports of coyote activity on Livingston Campus, but unfortunately the crucial pictorial evidence just hasn’t come in yet. In the last month we have heard two eyewitness accounts of coyotes scamming around Livingston campus. The first account was from a friend who happened to catch a glimpse of a coyote while driving down Road 3. He saw the coyote near the border of the woods behind the Livingston Rec Center in broad daylight on a weekday afternoon, and it didn't seem to mind being sighted. The next account came when I received a phone call at work one late afternoon a few weeks ago from one of our Piscataway Township DPW contacts who called me and said “I’m looking straight at a coyote who’s standing right by the woods next to the RAC (Rutgers Athletic Center).” Again, our witnesses did not have cameras on hand to record, but they both are well-known, credible people.

The frustration of not having pictorial evidence of these increasingly common-place critters ultimately led to some proactive action by the RR Team. Earlier this week, I decided to “bait” our coyote friends by setting out some decaying pork-chops in the areas on Livingston where they had been seen. At dusk I set out with six half-pound sirloin pork chops (only the best for our friends) in hand and deposited them along the perimeter of the woods by Lot 104 and the RAC. I am certain that I must have been a source of curiosity and amusement to any casual observers, as I can only imagine how ridiculous the sight of a woman tossing pork-chops out her passenger window and then leaping out and trying to clean her grubby hands in the grass must have been. Don’t you laugh – this is serious stuff. I must note that it was unfortunate that I didn’t think ahead to actual handling of the chops. My hands and arms were slimy after chucking the chops and I had nothing to clean up with. Rather than funkify my car’s interior further, I ultimately decided to rinse my hands and forearms with the contents of a bottle of “fresh pine” car air freshner and scrabble in a dirty clump of grass to dry off. Reeking then, of pine and decaying meat, I promptly headed to a scheduled “ghost tour” on the College Avenue Campus where I’m sure my dirty and grass-smeared presence added some olfactory gusto to an otherwise mild and normal smelling tour.

Later that evening co-investigator Ray and I returned to the site and discovered that four of my juicy pork-chops were missing, which leads me to surmise that (a) I gave our coyote friends a nice dinner or (b) a very unpicky and unhygienic person got a not-so-nice dinner. Actually, the matter isn’t quite that simple. These pork-chops were big, heavy, smelly suckers. I purposely chose the heaviest chunks of meat I could find for this bait, as I wanted a big creature to get them. There is no way your average alley cat could have dragged away four of these things. I love pork-chops, have a reknowned, huge appetite, and I could probably only eat two of this size at most. So perhaps a dog, racoon, or other animal made away with the bait. While not impossible, it’s not likely. First of all, the chops were placed in known coyote territory, second, most of the large mammals living in the Livingston woods are herbivores (deer, groundhogs, possums, normally racoons). Lastly, the precise location where I dumped my bait was close to the paved road and parking lot. This is not a spot where people set their springers loose for play. Basically, an animal would have to come out of the woods to get this bait. There’s just too much traffic on the roads during the semester for people to be walking their dogs.

Still, while I admit that I can’t prove coyotes took the bait, I can say this - whatever took it was a carnivorous, larger-sized creature, and while I would be happy to observe this creature’s eating habits from afar, I certainly don’t intend to come between it and its dinner, at least not without a bath.


Piscataway Township Employees see Coyotes in "Action"

By Jessica Teal

Two more confirmations have come to the Rutgers Rarities doorstep on our infamous coyotes of Livingston Campus. Two Piscataway township employees claim to have seen a coyote on Sutton Lane apparently in pursuit of a rabbit. As they were lunching in their big yellow sewer truck, one employee, named Jason told his co-worker to "take a look at that dog go after that rabbit!". Pointing to what he thought was a mere German Shepard, Jason and his co-worker noticed that the "dog" had a huge, bushy tail that dropped on the ground. "Oh sh*t, it’s a wolf!" was the Co-worker’s exclamation. However, in retrospect, both men believe it was a coyote due to it’s smaller size (about 24 inches at the shoulder).

It’s interesting to note that the coyote was seen on the Livingston Campus side of Sutton Lane, which corresponds geographically with our other coyote accounts, and also that the coyote was hunting across the street from the "First Class" daycare facility.


Dances with Coyotes

By Ray Brennan

On a brisk weekday evening after a late day of work, I took my regular route home, a shortcut through Livingston campus. While driving through the pitch of night down Avenue E, I saw some sort of odd shape in the middle of the road. I slowed my car down, and the shape gradually took form in the illumination of my headlights. When I realized that it was an animal of some sort, I slowed down further, eventually coming to a stop. The animal appeared to be a dog of some sort, possibly a Husky or a similar breed. I rubbed the exhaustion out of my eyes to take a closer look, and I realized that it was a wild animal, either a wolf or a coyote. I knew what I was witnessing was a rarity at the time, so I continued to study the creature. It was beast against machine, and the coyote held its ground, unwavering, unafraid. I think that was what scared me the most, that I was no more than 20 feet away, headlights blaring, and it stood up to my car, toe-to-toe, unwavering. I spent a good ten seconds in the stare-down before another car approached in the other lane without stopping, startling the coyote, which ran off into the woods. I was disappointed that the encounter had ended so abruptly, as I was curious about the creature’s next move, but I also knew that I was lucky enough to witness something special.

There were few people who believed me the next day when I told the story of the standoff, but I knew what I had seen. With expert testimony and stories of other sightings to support me, I doubt that the non-believers will maintain their positions. In truth, it wasn’t until this Rutgers Rarities investigation that I realized the beast was most likely a coyote and not a wolf. In any case, it was an experience that I will never forget.


©Rutgers Rarities and Unexplained Phenomena, 2005