Beginning Jan. 2 through March 15, an estimated 2,000 permit holders will scout the woods with shotguns and crossbows, searching for the coyotes that have been making meals of pets and livestock, The (Newark) Star-Ledger reported Tuesday.
"I know people who've lost chickens, cats," Nick Maltese, 20, of Hackettstown, said.
Maltese said he'll take part in the hunt with his friend Ryan Dubord.
"I go out in the snow, under the full moon," Dubord, 24, said. "They're so fast, it's difficult to hunt them. You see them but you don't shoot a lot because they're quick. I've seen some real mangy-looking ones. They're all over the place because there's lots of hills and thick cover and places for them to hide."
New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife biologist Andrew Burnett estimates the state's population of coyotes could be more than 5,000.
"We warn people who have small pets because coyotes have been known to take animals off a leash," Burnett said. "If you see a coyote in your back yard, make sure you keep him moving through and call to report it."
There were 184 coyote nuisance calls during 2011, a jump from 110 in 2010, Fish and Wildlife officials said.
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