Red fox, a native beach animal, mistakenly identified as coyote
A wily coyote is not running around a Cape May County barrier island.
Authorities had said that animal control officers were attempting to capture an animal on a Sea Isle City beach last Friday.
Rather, the animal, initially reported as a coyote, is actually a red fox. A video posted on Facebook by Elise Sherman O’Rourke showed an animal control officer attempting to corral the fox near a sand dune.
But the fox, a coastal native, evaded capture by running onto a sand dune.
Officials say the fox has mange, a disease that causes intense itching from an allergic reaction burrowing mites and results hair loss. State officials euthanized three sick foxes in Island Beach State Park last summer.
Red foxes, known as efficient scavengers, most often hunt and move about during evening, nighttime, and early morning hours, according to a state Division of Fish & Wildlife guide. They also commonly live in close association with human residences and communities.
“Animals that appear sick or that are acting abnormally should be avoided,” a state red fox guide advises.
But coyotes have been spotted on New Jersey beaches. In January 2016, photographer John Entwistle snapped an image of a coyote in Sandy Hook. At the time, Peter McCarthy, National Park Service Sandy Hook unit coordinator, said the animal is not native to the area.
The coyote is a wild member of the dog family and closely resembles a small German shepherd with the exception of its long snout and bushy, black-tipped tail, according to a state Division of Fish & Wildlife guide.