Two roaming coyotes have taken up residence in an old doghouse in a New Jersey backyard, keeping up the family living there with their incessant nighttime howling, the family says.
Liora Sofer of Closter said the coyotes have been trotting to the unused doghouse in her backyard each night for the last three days. The coyotes sleep there and then leave in the morning.
Sofer said she first heard howling on Saturday night.
"The next morning I woke up, and I saw them again waking up from the doghouse. That's when I started to freak out a little bit," she said.
They aren't exactly respectful neighbors, either. Sofer said she and her teenage daughter have been awakened multiple times during the night by the coyotes' screeching and howling.
"They howl so loudly that I can't sleep," said Sofer.
Sofer's 15-year-old daughter Maayan said, "One time I even thought it was my mom screaming. It's so loud it sounds like shrieking noises. It's really scary."
Sofer called police, who were "very nice" but told her there was nothing they could do. They referred her to animal control, who told her they couldn't do anything, either.
Sofer said she was told to make loud noises to scare off the coyotes and to board up the old doghouse, which she did Wednesday night. But so far, it hasn't been a permanent solution.
If the coyotes continue to return, Sofer splans hire a private company to catch and remove them.
The borough of Closter was not available after hours to comment Wednesday.
Last year, when police in the northern New Jersey community of Elmwood Park warned residents of coyote sightings and in one case, an attack on a pet dog, authorities noted that it's become "quite common for coyotes to enter into urban and residential areas and in many cases make small wooded areas their home," according to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Coyotes generally hide from humans but in the spring, when they give birth and begin to raise litters, they concentrate their activities around dens or burrows in which the young are sheltered, according to the Humane Society, and may become defensive and territorial.
People who encounter a coyote should never run away; instead, they're encouraged to "haze" the animal with techniques like making loud noises or throwing sticks or objects towards (but not at) the coyote.