PHILADELPHIA – Coyotes are searching for mates this time of year and that has led to an increase in sightings of the four-legged prowlers.
The mating season for these canines that are native to North America runs from January to March, and usually peaks in late February. The animals thrive in rural areas but have also found a way to survive in more urban settings. Suburbs are where most sightings happen as they represent the frontier of where humans are expanding into wildlife habitats.
Jerry Czech, a game warden in Pennsylvania, told FOX Weather multimedia journalist Katie Byrne that he thinks more people being outside after pandemic lockdowns have been lifted has also led to an increase in sightings.
"Most of the time people are calling because they're concerned they see a coyote and they don't think a coyote belongs in the city, and they are everywhere," Czech said. "They're in every county in Pennsylvania, they're in the suburbs. Most of the time they're, they're nocturnal, basically, so most people aren't seeing them because they're out at night. Could they be out during the day? Of course."
What if you spot a coyote?
Czech said that while coyotes can be unsettling to see in a city, they are usually harmless. He said they rarely attack people, and there have been cases of coyotes snatching pets. He said the attacks usually happen because the coyote feels provoked.
Czech said that if you do spot one of these urban coyotes, it’s best to leave it alone.
"Continue your walk, observe it, don't chase it," Czech said. "If it comes over or wants to get close to you, make some noise. If there's something around, maybe throw some rocks, yell at it, to discourage it to go away."
Aggressive or fearless coyotes should be reported to authorities immediately.
Keeping coyotes away
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, people should never feed coyotes. They can also help discourage coyotes from approaching their property by keeping food and water for their pets inside. Pets should be kept on a leash when out for a walk and lids on garbage cans should be secured.
Fences that are at least 6 feet tall with a roll-bar on top can also help keep coyotes away from a home, according to the Urban Coyote Research Project. Some repellents may also work at keeping coyotes away from small yards.