SADDLE RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Bergen County, New Jersey residents were being warned Tuesday to keep their pets and children inside, a day after a coyote attacked a man in Saddle River.

The victim of the attack, John Zeug, talked with CBS2’s Christine Sloan about his experience.

Zeug, 77, of the Twin Brooks area, said he was gardening in his yard when the coyote attacked.

“I finished that section and was crossing the drive, and boom!” Zeug said. “He got me in the back of the leg.”

Zeug suffered three puncture wounds to his leg. The attack from behind happened during the day when after he yelled at the coyote – actually a female – whose dead pups were found under Zeug’s cabin.

John Zeug, 77, was attacked by this coyote outside his Saddle River, New Jersey home on Monday, April 6. (Credit: CBS2)

John Zeug, 77, was attacked by this coyote outside his Saddle River, New Jersey home on Monday, April 6. (Credit: CBS2)

“She let go, and I was able to run up to the front steps here; rang the doorbell,” Zeug said.

Zeug’s wife rushed him to get help. When they got back, there were police officers in his yard.

“We were back about a minute or so, and we hear, ‘Bang, bang, bang!’ They shot her three times,” he said.

TYCO Animal Control and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife had been notified and had responded to the scene along with local officers, police said. The coyote had been spotted in the woods and was killed, police said.

Police said Zeug’s neighbor’s yellow Labrador retriever had also been attacked by the same coyote this past weekend. The incidents are considered strange, because coyotes are nocturnal.

“The coyote has been transported to the Division of Fish and Wildlife for testing to determine if it was rabies or had some other sickness,” said Saddle River police Capt. Jason Cosgriff.

Workers in the area had earlier reported seeing the coyote several times Monday acting aggressively toward other dogs, police said.

“It’s like jungle habitat here these days– wild geese, deer,” Frank, a neighbor, told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “The fact that he attacked someone is a concern.”

Indeed, residents in the suburban Bergen County community were terrified.

“We’re all scared,” said Kristen Walsh. “There was one down the street. I’ve seen them on my yard.”

Even though attacks on humans are rare, coyotes are known to mistake small children and pets for their food source – usually rodents and rabbits.

Walsh said she has been seeing more coyotes in the area than usual.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said coyotes have pups in April and May, and encounters such as the one Zeug experienced happen when they are looking for food.

Officials advise putting garbage in tightly-closed containers. And if you come across a coyote, make loud noises and even throw rocks and spray them with a garden hose.

Zeug as of Tuesday said he was still experiencing dull pain. The retired schoolteacher has also received eight shots to prevent rabies.

He is hoping the test results on the coyote come back negative. The results are expected later this week.

There have been two other coyote attacks on humans in New Jersey in recent years. One was reported in Chester in October of last year, and the coyote turned out to have rabies. The other happened in 2009.

Anyone who has experienced an incident with a coyote recently was asked to call Saddle River police at (201) 327-5300.


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