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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says Indiana residents might see more coyotes this time of the year and have provided some helpful information when one is spotted.

DNR said coyotes are on the move this time of year, and residents should be cautious, but there is no cause for alarm.

In a statement, DNR provided an overview on coyotes, their behavior and habits, and what to do if residents are concerned for their pets:

“Coyotes are common everywhere in the state, even in urban areas. Coyotes become more active during winter, and the bare vegetation this time of year increases the chance of catching a glimpse. Young coyotes leave their parents to find a new home, making them more likely to be seen during winter. And in January, coyotes will be looking to breed, making them even more active. Seeing more coyotes does not mean they are increasing in number.

Where people are, coyotes follow. Coyotes like to eat animals and plants that thrive around yards and homes, including rabbits, mice, fruit and squirrels. They thrive around people because of the abundant food that comes with human development.

Coyotes are a common member of Indiana’s urban wildlife community, as are raccoons, red foxes, and opossums. Coyotes are also an important member of Indiana’s wildlife community, helping control rodent populations and cleaning up carrion.

Coyotes typically weigh between 20-30 pounds and are similar in height to a German Shepherd. Winter fur, which is thicker, makes coyotes appear bigger than they actually are, potentially causing concern.

To reduce the possibility of pets having a negative interaction with coyotes or any other wildlife, keep pets leashed, in a kennel with a secure top, or indoors.”

According to DNR, problems between coyotes and people are not common, but there are some guidelines to follow for making property less attractive to coyotes:

  • Clean up fallen fruit from trees or gardens
  • Keep garbage secure
  • Make sure pet food and treats are not left outside
  • If coyotes are seen in, take down birdfeeders – they could be attracted to the rodents eating the seeds
  • Never intentionally feed a coyote, which could result in its losing its fear of people

DNR said making a coyote feel unwelcome around people helps maintain a natural fear of humans. People should never corner or chase a coyote, and they should always have a clear escape path to get away.

If people come in contact with a coyote and want it to go away, try and make it uncomfortable by doing the following:

  • Yell
  • Wave your arms
  • Spray it with a hose
  • Throw tennis balls or small stones at it, but don’t throw anything that could be food (like apples)
  • Carry a jar of coins to shake or a small air horn to make noise

Learn more about coyotes here.