Fairfield police shot and killed a coyote that bit a mother and her toddler while walking in a park, sending them to the hospital with leg injuries, authorities said.
The 37-year-old mom was pushing her 4-year-old son in a stroller in the area between the tennis courts and pool at the Fairfield Recreation Complex when the coyote lunged at her just before 7 p.m., Borough Police Chief Anthony G. Manna said.
The mom fell to the ground and was bitten by the animal on her leg. When her stroller fell behind her, the animal went after the child, biting him on his right leg, authorities said.
Two other people in the park ran toward the mom and her son, who at this point were trying to run away when the coyote lunged at them again, Manna said. Both victims were transported to an area hospital for treatment and an evaluation, and police began searching the park for the coyote.
Around 8:35 p.m., Fairfield Sgt. Frank Tracey was near 244 Big Piece Road when he noticed the coyote walking along a fence line.
"He exited his police vehicle with his M4 patrol rifle and made his way into the back yard," Manna said in a news release.
"He initially noticed a cat in the yard and thought that is what he saw. A few moments later, a coyote emerged from behind a pool and began to aggressively approach the officer."
The officer fired several shots, striking the coyote dead, police said.
The Associated Humane Society took possession of the carcass in order to conduct testing for rabies.
The Fairfield Police Department immediately closed the recreation complex to all additional activities. The New Jersey Conservation Department, the Department of Environmental Protection and Associated Humane were all contacted for assistance and responded.
As the incident was unfolding, several residents along Big Piece Road told the police that a resident’s Doberman Pincher was attacked last evening by a coyote.
"It is unclear if this is the same animal as the residents described that coyote as being much larger," Manna said.
Several Big Piece Road residents have reported seeing and hearing a large number of coyotes behind their homes.
“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” the chief said.
“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."
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