(Photo by Jeff Crawn, from the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife Facebook page.)

Seeing a coyote, bear or fox in a backyard or along the road can be a surprising or scary experience, but the Lawrence Township Animal Control office hopes its tips help ease residents’ fears.

There have been numerous coyote and fox sightings in the last two months, as well as a handful of bear sightings, according to recent township press releases. A black bear was spotted near Carter Road at the end of May and then again on Surrey Drive mid-June. Residents were advised to bring garbage cans and bird feeders—which can attract bears—inside.

There is not much to worry about as far as coyotes, though, said animal control. Officials advise residents to remain calm and do not run. Face the coyote and be big and loud. Blow a whistle, shout and make noise.

Residents should also ensure that there are no human-produced food sources, such as garbage, pet food or bird feeders, on their property—the prospect of a quick and easy meal may attract coyotes. Pets and young children should be supervised when outside. If a coyote is seen in the daytime, is acting at all sick or showing abnormal behaviors, contact the police or Lawrence Township Animal Control.

The township pointed to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife for tips on how to deal with a bear sighting. They are particularly active in the spring and summer after emerging from their winter dens in search of food and mates, the DEP said.

Bears can detect scents more than two miles away, so residents are advised to take the same precautions they would to avoid coyotes: bring trash and bird feeders inside, and keep food and pet food indoors. Bears are instinctively wary of humans, but they may learn to associate people with food. Residents can also store trash in containers with tight-fitting lids and should clean leftover food residue from all outdoor grills.

If you encounter a bear, the DEP recommends slowly backing away and avoiding direct eye contact. Try to scare the bear away with loud noises by yelling, using a whistle, banging pots and pans or blowing an air horn while raising your arms over your head and looking as big as possible.

The bear may utter a series of huffs or popping jaw noises while swatting the ground in the process—all warning signs that you are too close. Standing on its hind legs, though, is not usually threatening behavior. This could mean the animal is just attempting to get a better view or detect scents in the air. If the bear does not leave, try to move to a secure area.

For more information, call Lawrence Township Animal Control at (609) 844-7092.